Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 2 of Iyengar's Short 3-Day Course

I did not follow the sequence to the letter and made my own adaptations along the way. I also  did not hold most of the poses for the recommended times. I held poses longer than usual but came out of them when I felt ready.

I was actually disappointed to see the return of Urdvha Padmasana and Pindasana in Handstand and Shoulderstand. I was so disappointed I contemplated going back to the last sequence or doing my own practice. Instead I skipped those poses. I also skipped all the variations in Headstand because my Headstand did not feel steady enough.

I started with my handstand practice and stayed up there this time. I am getting better at kicking up with the right, but the left is still better. I am confused by this because I am right handed so I assumed that kicking up with the right would be easier.

Janusirsasana felt heavenly. This might be one of my favorite poses. Mahamudra is still not clear to me. It is really difficult to do the Uddiyana lift while in this position.

For Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana I placed my outer ankle on my thigh rather than at the groin and did not do the bind. I felt enough of a stretch there and did not want to push it.

Urdvha Mukha Paschimottanasana was fun. I surprised myself and held it steadily for what felt like a long time. It probably was only 15 seconds. Iyengar says to hold this one for 1 minute.

2 minute Uttanasana (I think this is the only one I actually stayed in for the suggested time) was revealing. I had more weight in my heels so I kept trying to bring more weight forward towards the ball of the foot and the metatarsals. When I did that I felt more of a stretch in the inner thighs and groin. I felt like those areas had never been accessed while in Uttanasana.

The sequence finishes with a 5 minute Savasana, a choice of Ujjayi Pranayama or Nadi Sodhana Pranayama and another Savasana. He does not suggest the Uddiyanas this time.  I went with the Nadi Shodhana which was calming and centering. My right nostril was not as clear as the left which usually seems to be the case. According to Alan finger this exercise balances both sides of the brain. I also learned from him that every eight-eight minutes, one nostril becomes more dominant, then for up to four minutes both nostrils operate equally and then they change again.

I am looking forward to the sequence for the third day. There are more standing poses which I have been missing. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 1 of Iyengar's Short 3-Day Course

It's good to be back. What can I say, suddenly I could not find the time. My daughter turned 4, there were family visits, anatomy workshops and more opportunities to teach some yoga. All good things.

After the 30th week Mr. Iyengar offers a three day course which benefits the body and harmonizes the mind. The first major difference with these courses is that the poses are all timed.  I did not enjoy timing the poses. On the one hand I felt that if I sustained the duration I might be getting the maximum benefit from the pose. On the other hand I watched the clock too closely. I don't want my focus to be on timing. I prefer to be present to sensations while in the poses.

The sequence is relatively short and simple. There are only 16 poses in the sequence, followed by Savasana, then Nadi Sodhana Pranayama with 6 Uddiyanas and then the second Savasna. Yes, there are 2 Savasanas.

I warmed up with my handstand practice because I am working on that on a daily basis anyway. Sometimes I get up. Sometimes I don't. So far I can only kick up with the left. When I kick up with the right my hips swing over to the left and my kicking leg turns out. I did not get up today. Not enough umph in the kick-off to get to the wall. Actually I did get both legs up, I just did not stay there.

The first pose in this sequence is a 10 minute headstand, but that did not happen. I felt heavy on my head so I cut it short.

1 minute of Navasana- After 30 seconds of Navasana my core started to shake. This is good for building strength so I did not mind it. Ardha Navasana was much harder to hold for 30 seconds.  I was ready to be done after 20.

Oddly, I loved the 1-minute Adho Mukha Savasana. The longest I have ever held it was 5 minutes. This one-minute AMS flew by. One of my teachers explained how after Mary Dunn held it for 50 minutes her one piece of advice was to continue to press the thighs back.

I like Nadi Sodhana Pranayama practice. It is one of my favorites because it balances the breath and I always feel centered after wards. It balances the energetic pathways that spiral and run adjacent to the Susumna Nadi. Then the Uddiyanas direct the balanced energy straight up the Susumna Nadi. At least that is what I experienced. Some sensation or force came right up to my third eye and softly expanded there. After 4 Uddiyanas I just wanted to meditate in that space. And then I felt tired. The second Savasana was needed.

I am aware of how my practice changes as the weather gets colder. My practice becomes more about conservation and preservation rather than growth or progression (as in the Spring and Summer). I don't go to my edge. I am gathering for the winter I guess.