Sunday, May 15, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 36 (Ariana)

Some things that stand out for this sequence: First Urdvha Dhanurasana (Upward Bow) and a new Pranayama exercise that I had never done before - Suryabhedana Pranayama.

As usual the sequence calls for headstand with variations and shoulderstand with variations right off the bat. I needed to warm up a little so I did some sun salutations and tried to find something new about my downward facing dog. I recently read Brooks Hall's post How are you Wearing Your Asana? in which she mentions one of my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh quotes:

“…your motivation is not to prove that you are able to do it. The point is not to prove yourself. The point is to practice for your well-being and enjoyment.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

I had this in mind in the beginning of the practice and it reminded me of another quote of his that I like:

"We should never be absolutely certain of our knowledge. We need to be ready to give it up at a moment's notice for a higher truth. This is called non-attachment to views and it is one of the most important elements of our practice."

I was trying to let go of what I know about the poses and let something new come up. This is hard to do when you have done a pose hundreds of times. I really enjoyed my surya namaskars and was surprised by how light my jumps felt. I experimented in down dog with a block between my legs and then my feet. I was trying to find where I was exerting effort and where not as much and where that was happening on each leg. In addition to other things I learned I have trouble reaching my right inner heel down as much as my left.

After that I went to my headstand and shoulderstand. I used my jade mat for headstand which has a little more spring to it. It was much harder to be steady and I have trouble anyway. I had heard Carrie Owerko mention that about jade mats not being ideal for headstands because of that. But this was the first time I experienced that for myself. I did not do any of the variations. Nor did I do any of the shoulderstand variations. In general I need to integrate my core more in these poses so I just worked on that. I did some targeted exercises on my transverse abdominal muscles yesterday and focuses on that muscle group while in the inversions. It seemed to help me access my core muscles to find a new way to stabilize the poses.

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana was much easier than it usually is for me -even with the left leg which is tighter. This is all thanks to the Flexor Hallucis Longus - the flexor muscle of the big toe. I press a lot into that toe against the grip of my fingers and it has changed the pose for me.

I stayed away from Kukkutasana, Garba Pindasana again. And a new one to add to
that list: Vatayasana. This looks like it would hurt my knees. I did not even want to try it.

I was surprised that the final pose is Upward Bow or Full Wheel and then Savasana. I need to ease into Savasana with some twists at least before I come into Savasana but I wanted to see how this would feel. Next time I will do some twists before Savasana.

The sequence concludes with Nadi Sodhana Pranayama, Suryabhedana Pranayama and 8 Uddiyanas. I had never done the Surya pranayama but I liked it very much and I like these three exercises together. Next time I will hopefully get to spend more time exploring them. Once again I was rushed today.

The Suryabhedana is basically one half of the nadi exercise. Same mudras with the hands and you inhale through the right nostril (while closing off the left) and hold it for 5 counts then exhale through the left nostril (while closing off the right). Iyengar states this exercise increases digestive power, soothes and invigorates the nerves and cleans the sinuses.

I felt lithe and strong today. This was refreshing because I have been feeling tired mentally and physically for the last week or so.


Brooks Hall said...

This was fun to read, and I enjoyed your quote! I actually like practicing Vatayasana, but don't do it as often as I might like… it does look so odd. And it's always best to take care of your body, too!

hann said...

The greatest abdominal exercise routines require you to use an abdominal exercise ball, do crunches, leg raises and sit-ups. These all target both your lower and upper abdominal muscles. A lot of people think carbs is the only thing that makes you fat. So, theyll just look to see how many carbs a certain food product has while completely ignoring the sugar contents.

ariana said...

Thanks, Brooks! Yes, it is always best to take care of the body. But who knows, maybe one day I will be inspired to try on Vatayasana...

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