Thursday, March 31, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 33 (Ariana)

I have heard yoga described as an art form. I think part of what makes it an art for me is knowing when to push and when to back off - negotiating that delicate balance of ease and effort. I was focused on that throughout the practice. Easing off at the sign of any discomfort and exerting enough effort to skillfully sustain the pose.

This was the same sequence as last week but I hardly recognized it. It did not feel the same at all. It was another grey and rainy day but the forward bends were not as soothing as last time. They felt more out of place especially when a backbend preceded them.

No variations in Headstand or Shoulderstand-just the basic versions. My teacher (Jason Brown) recently told me that I would benefit from using a strap in shoulderstand to bring my shoulderblades closer together to support the back more instead of over using my supraspinatous muscles. At least I think that is what he said - we finished learning all 206 bones and the joints but haven't really started learning about the muscles. (correction - it was the erector spinae muscles). So I used the strap today and stayed in a steady Shoulderstand for a few. My Headstand was wobbly today but it felt light - strange combination. I came up so quickly in Headstand today that I surprised myself.

I threw some standing poses into the mix (Parsvakonasana, Trikonasana and Vira 1) to work the legs a little before all the floor work.

Ugh tried Chakrasana again and I cannot do it without rolling to the side. I decided that this is probably not good for my neck so I am not going to do that anymore. I still liked Navasana before Ustrasana. But I was not ready to then come into Virasana. JanuSirsasana felt downright cranky after Supta Virasana. Next time I will finesse that transition a little more. I was not quite ready for that forward bend. I used a strap for Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottansana and propped myself up on several blankets for Triang Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana which felt fine and good. Krouchasana was not so pleasant. I tend to lean back too much and too much to the side of the extended leg. I use a strap for this but I do not stay in this pose for very long.

I used my trusty figure 8 strap configuration for Lotus/Half Lotus. I put my hands through my legs for Kukkutasana and I imagined what kind of strength it would take but did not even try to lift up. I leaned back for Garbha Pindasana without putting my arms through. These were brief experiments that I probably will not replicate.

By mistake I did Parsva Dhanurasana when I should have done Akarna Dhanurasana (Archers Pose). When I looked at the picture I was stunned by how much his bottom foot is dorsiflexed. I think this is way beyond the typical range of motion. I barely noticed that his other foot was by his ear. I am well on my way to becoming an anatomy nerd and I love it!

Looking ahead to week 36 - I am pleased to see more standing poses. Guess I am kind of done with this sequence.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 32 (Ariana)

Forward bends feel good on rainy days. It is a wet and grey day and I feel off today even though I actually felt motivated to do the sequence. I did not feel strong. I felt out of shape. I am teaching more than I am practicing these days and maybe I am feeling it in my practice. I am struggling with finding the time to do yoga. I will work on that.

Many sequences ago I wrote that I enjoyed starting my practice with the Headstand and Shoulderstand. This is no longer the case. I feel that I need a warm up before I do either of those. My headstand felt heavy and labored. I tried again- which I never do. I usually just do one and then I am done. But my first one felt so off. I had to try again. The second wasn't any better and going up was more chaotic/less controlled.

The phone rang after headstand (I thought I had turned it off) and I answered it. Next thing I know I am checking my email and looking at a an apartment listing that my sister-in-law sent me. 10 minutes later I was back on the mat. The phone rang again after Shoulderstand and I answered it again. I usually don't do that :-/

In my Shoulderstand I used a strap to keep my elbows from splaying out to the sides. This limited the variations I could do. Even my Shoulderstand was off today and I did not enjoy it as much as I usually do. Most of the time I was thinking about how my neck was in extreme flexion beyond the typical range of motion and how this affects the rest of the curves in the spine. Do you want to maintain the natural curves (other than the cervical curve) in the spine in Shoulderstand the way you do in Headstand? This is what I was thinking about. No doubt due to my anatomy studies.

I like doing Navasansa before Ustrasana - to strengthen the abdominal muscles before stretching them. As I have learned from Jason Brown's Zenyasa classes it is better to stretch after strengthening. More and more flexibility is not the goal.

I did my usual and skipped most of the Lotus variations, Kukkutasana, and Garba Pindasana. I can't do them and I am wondering what the benefit and purpose is of them anyway. Sometimes it seems the yoga masters did poses just because their bodies were capable.

The forward bends were so soothing today and I lingered in them as long as I could but I was rushed. Had to go teach. The pranayama at the end was also good. Nothing special, just good.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 31 redo (Ariana)

Oh how I avoided coming back to these sequences.  I kept putting it off and thinking that I wanted to go through the sequence ahead of time and plan replacement poses for the ones I cannot do. Then I realized a month had passed since my last entry and I just dove in. Like it or not.

Mostly I did not like it. Most of the time I was wondering why I am doing this project. What's the point? To see what my body is capable of? Or is it to see how my mind/ego responds to what I can and cannot do? How about to learn about myself!

My shoulder is fine now and since the last time my headstands are much more deliberate and mindful. I decided not to do the headstand variations until I can balance CONFIDENTLY without the wall.

The shoulderstand variations were playful for me. Then I decided to take it more seriously and  focus more in the poses despite the fact that they are easier for me. That was a wise choice because then my shoulderstand felt more steady and stable.

Chakrasana is back and it is still not happening for me without rolling over to one side.

There were some poses that I had never heard of this time. Garbha Pindasana- Embryo Pose. When I read the description I chuckled to myself. Plate 116. Mr Iyengar looks like he is fixing his hair in front of a mirror...except for the fact that his arms are threaded through his crossed legs and his knees are up in the air. Mr Iyengar says that the pose resembles a human foetus in the womb. The difference being that the legs are in lotus and the head is down. I don't see any resemblance to a foetus here.

Then there was Kukkutasana or Cock Pose. Here the arms pass through  lotus bound legs and Mr. Iyengar props himself up on his hands only. This did not happen for me either. (I made a bad pun to myself that you'd have to be cookoo to try this pose).

Padmasana/Lotus is still not good for me. So I do a nice half lotus with a figure 8 strap configuration that I learned in Carrie Owerko's class recently. I love it.

I was almost rolling my eyes with annoyance by the time I reached the end poses Parsva Dhanurasana and Uttanasana. I was glad to do some Nadi Sodhana Pranayama until I sneezed. I decided that was a good time to head into Savasana and do the Ujjayi breath there as he instructs.

So mostly I feel glad that I finished the sequence (and did not abandon the blog), did what I could and felt ok about the things that I couldn't.