Saturday, October 30, 2010

Return of Week 25 - Jenny

Went through the whole sequence again today.  The hip opening/challenging poses are still so far off for me - I just have to resign myself to studying them deeply.  One thing I'm studying now is how I need to bring my knees towards midline in the lotus positions.  It's my only chance of getting the legs to rotate externally without torquing my knees.  I notice that people who get into the lotus position easily and naturally tend to place their knees away from midline.  Anatomical differences, yes, but what differences are they?

Other than that, the sequence feels great.  I feel limber and acclimated.  I'll keep going.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Time to Restore

I took the week off and did an Iyengar restorative sequence that one of my first teachers, Rama Nina Patella gave me. I think she got it from a studio in Chicago called the The Yoga Circle. This was so restful. Just what I needed.

Every pose was supported with blankets, bolsters and blocks as needed.The sequence was:
1. Supta Virasana (5 minutes)
2.Supta Padmasana (3-5 minutes each side) I did half lotus on both sides
3. Supta Baddha Konasana (7-10 minutes) with a strap (this was my fave)
4. Janusirsasana
5. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana
6. Upavista Konasana
7. Paschimottanasana
All the forward bends were 2-3 minutes and required the forehead to be resting on a blanket, or block.
8. Viparita Dandasana (10-15 minutes) This is a backbend over a yoga chair, which I do not own. Sadly I skipped this one. There is a strap around the thighs, tall block under feet. Arms in headstand position resting on blankets. Blanket rolled under lumbar spine.
9. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (10-15) minutes. Strap around thighs, tall block under pelvis and one under the heels. Shoulders rest on folded blankets.
10. Savasana

Lately I have been pondering whether or not to post about my practice that is off the mat - like my confrontations with ego (asmita), working on non-attachment (vairyagya) and attempts at maintaining equanimity (upeksha). Does this blog only have to be about my experiences with the asanas? More things have been coming up for me.

First, the hardest one - ego (asmita). I did not make the cut for the Equinox audition last month. I waited about 2.5 weeks before I contacted them at which point they told me that they had already contacted those they were interested in hiring. I thought that was rude not to let the those that didn't make it know at the same time. Maybe I wouldn't want to work for people like that anyway (says my wounded ego). But this has been disappointing to me and of course makes me wonder if I should be teaching in the first place. After some consideration and feeling sorry for myself I came to the conclusion that I really cannot let one rejection get in my way. This is one door that closed and hopefully there will be others that will open. In order to experience success I must also experience failure. ok enough with that.

Working on non-attachment: this has come up in a new way for me. I am not fixated on material things but on information. I am so eager to learn from many of the great teachers here in NYC and I have had a hard time deciding on where to start - which to study with first. I have been attending free open houses with Leslie Kaminoff, Amy Mathews and Jason Brown. I also want to try yoga classes at Laughing Lotus, Naam Yoga and with Genny Kapuler. So much to do and so little time, not to mention limited resources. I was all over the place and had this desperate feeling of wanting to learn everything at the same time. After many weeks and many back and forth, wishy washy decisions I decided that my next intensive/certification will be Yoga Anatomy studies with Jason Brown. As of last week it was Leslie Kaminoff's anatomy course but now I feel confident and settled in my choice now. 

Maintaining equanimity: I had a fight with a cab driver a few weeks ago. I give myself some credit- I lost it at the end right before I paid. I went to Trader Joes and treated myself to a cab home thinking it would be the usual 10 minute/$10 ride. I saved a lot at TJ's so it was worth it. Long story longer, there was a parade and it was impossible to get across to the east side. Traffic was obscene. It took 1.5 hours and $40 to get home. It costs less to get to the airport. So I calmly explained that there was no way I could pay this amount and how it was not the driver's fault but nor was it mine and could he give me a break. Well the driver did not understand me and started yelling at me to get out of his car and not pay anything. That's when I lost it. I had no intention of doing that. no way. I started yelling obscenities - more at the situation rather then at the driver. We kept yelling over each other - getting nowhere. He didn't understand and I had to go so I PAID the full amount. This still makes me cringe.

When I got home I explained what happened to my husband and I told him how I tried to stay calm and maintain equanimity. He asked me WHY? This was such a great and simple question. WHY? I wasn't sure myself at first. But then I threw out the idea that it's worth it to maintain composure and not let your mood be affected by external/constantly changing circumstances. This relates back to ego too and my feeling sorry for myself about not getting hired by Equinox. Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don't but there is a part of ourselves that does not have to be tethered to those changes. There is a part of us that is unchanging and eternal that resides in calm abiding. Yoga helps me discover that space.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Week 30 - Ariana

I wasn't planning on doing the week 30 sequence today. I was just going to do my own thing. I started off with handstand practice (an obstacle of a pose for me), then 10 minute Headstand, and Shoulderstand. Next thing I know I am doing the Shoulderstand variations from the sequence (completely in the wrong order). I figured I might as well do the whole sequence.

I thought of the Shoulderstand variations as replacements for the standing postures I had been doing the last two weeks. So I was working the legs a lot as if they were weight bearing.

It has been on the chilly side the last few days and this tightens my muscles. No binding in Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana. I used a strap around the foot of the extended leg to fold forward.

For all the Lotus and Half Lotus positions I was having trouble grounding down again in the left sit bone. My weight always shifts to the right- in all the seated poses not just Lotus. To counter this I propped my outer right hip up a tiny bit with a blanket so that left sit-bone could make more contact with the floor. This relieved discomfort in the outer left knee immediately.

For some bizarre reason I was able to do Lotus on the side that I usually cannot-with my left leg over the right. I didn't do it on my usual side. I stopped as soon as I felt anything in my left knee and did Half Lotus instead. Bizarro day. I snuck in some Baddhakonasana preps for Lotus that Jenny and I learned at a Rodney Yee workshop last year. Maybe that had something to do with it.

I am still loving how different the Virasana, Supta Virasana and Paryankasana poses are for me. I was looking forward to that trio the whole time. They feel good now. The quadriceps and abdominal muscles have learned to release and I can actually relax in these postures. I have found space in them where before there was none.

By the time I got to Salabhasana I was tired. From that point on I exerted minimal effort and focus. I lost my zeal. I am pretty sure that I rolled my eyes when I got up for Utkatasana and Garudasana.

I reread the directions for the Ujjayi AntarKumbakha. I am still not clear on how to apply the MulaBandha but I will read about that some more too.

Haven't decided if I will stay with this sequence or just keep going. I read a little about the next course and I am intrigued because Mr. I describes it as a short (yeah right) 3-day course which whenever followed will benefit the body and bring harmony to the mind.

How can I resist that?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week 25 Strikes Back - Jenny

Okay, so I'm still staying with Week 25.  It's a bear.  But I am able to move through the poses more swiftly, exploring and (I think) finding the centering of the hip joint, then heading onto the next pose.  I think I'll stay with this one some more.  I'm concerned I might torque my knee if I push too hard.  And this sequence gives me enough to explore, to be honest.  It's a full-on curiosity fest these days.  So much stimulus in these poses.  There's hardly a one that's easy to get into and get out of.  Propping almost all the poses.  Having to take extra time to be safe.  I've surrendered.  I'm sure there's more surrendering on the way - there always is.  So I'm trying to enjoy the journey.  Because like life, it's mostly journey.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 29 - Ariana

I went to an Intro to Iyengar Yoga class at the Iyengar Institute today. I had never been there and I wanted to see how they introduce the Iyengar method. There is always something to learn. I tried to enter with a beginner's mind and let go of what I think I know about Iyengar Yoga. Nonetheless it was nice to be in this beginner's space in the context of having gone through these 29 weeks of LOY sequences. I understood the sequence in a way I would not have had it not been for those 29 weeks.

I did the week 29 sequence yesterday but did not have time to write about it afterward like I usually like to do. The practice is not as fresh in my memory. I squeezed the sequence into the day spontaneously. I found myself with 1.5 hours of free time so I did the practice then - around 4PM. Why not?

I don't think I mentioned yet that the sequence for weeks 26 - 30 is the same. I am pleased that I am not tired of this sequence. I don't like to repeat the same sequence over and over again. This is one  of the reasons (there are many) why Bikram does not appeal to me. But this sequence is complex and there is a lot for me to discover.

I wanted to focus on good old Headstand and Shoulderstand without the variations. My goal was to have 10 minutes of each pose. (Lately I have been starting my own practice this way. This is new for me. Before I did them towards the end of my practice.) I was working on my Headstand away from the wall again so it was pretty wobbly. I came down and went back up a few times. But a 10 minute Shoulderstand came (and went) easily this time.

Then I did the same standing poses as last week because I did not do the inverted variations. I really needed to come back to those-they are very grounding for me. After that I resumed the sequence with Jathara Parivartanasna.

I backed off when my left knee was bent in Janusirsasana. I was pressing the bent leg back with the heel of the foot at the groin. But this did not feel good in the outer knee so I brought the sole of the foot to the right inner thigh instead.

I put blocks under my hands for Lolasana. I came closer to lifting off but my toes stayed on the floor.

I did Paryankasana for the first time ever in an Iyengar yoga class recently. I don't remember ever doing it in any kind of yoga class. The teacher had us place a wood block at the highest height right behind the shoulderblades. This felt great. I felt like I had been cracked open. In a good way. This is how I have been practicing this pose ever since that class. I love it. Surprisingly this time my spine curled right over that block and then the top of my head lightly touched the floor. My hips pressed up away from the floor for this. I then checked the photo of this pose and Mr. Iyengar's hips stay down.

I worked on pressing up from the floor again in Chaturanga (instead of coming down from plank). I did not use the strap like last time but I used the block under my forehead. I can press up this way. I am probably putting too much weight in the forehead but it is teaching me something in my core that is for sure.

I still don't like Garudasana before Savasana. I begrudge doing this every time.

I need to re-read the instructions for Inhalation Retention. I did not do it right again.

I started to read Light on Pranayama which Iyengar wrote a few years after Light on Yoga. In the preface he says that in his recent practices a new light of inner awareness dawned on him which he had not experienced when he wrote LOY. That was in the 1970's. I can only imagine what new inner awareness has dawned on him since then. I would love to know his opinion of these sequences now and if he would change anything.