Thursday, August 25, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 39 (Ariana)

I have been thinking about these sequences more than I have been doing them. Originally I attempted to do one sequence every week. As the sequences get longer it has become harder to stick to that intention.

I am still at the sequence for weeks 36-40 which start with a ton of headstand and shoulderstand variations. I flipped things around and did the inversions last.

Before I did the poses I studied the sequence and broke it down into four sections:

1. Spend a lot of time upside down in headstand and shoulderstand reversing effects of gravity and assisting in the return of blood-flow to the heart. Many of the variations require a lot of core strength while stretching the backs of the legs and inner thighs. This is a lot of time spent compressing the cervical spine.

2. Stand. Bring the blood back to the legs. Strengthen and stretch the legs and hips and some oblique abdominal work with standing twists.

3. Sit. fold forward stretching the back of the body, compressing the abdominal organs, flexing and rotating the spinal joints.

4. Backbend. Extend the spine and decompress the organs, stretching the abdominal wall. The backbends at the end finally make sense. Make space in the abdomen after all that compression in the forward bends. I only realized this after I took a class with Carrie Owerko and after a lot of intense core strengthening exercises we did Urdhva Danurasana (upward facing bow/full wheel) to stretch the abdominal muscles.

I realized Iyengar's Matsyasana/Fish Pose (Top Image from Light on Yoga) is not as I learned it. The version that I have learned over the years seems to be what Iyengar calls Uttanapadasana (Bottom image).

5. Breathe. Nadi Sodhana Pranayama and Suryabhedana Pranayama

I didn't use any blocks today - not even for Parvritta Trikonasana or Parvritta Parsvakonasana. Surprisingly I had no problem getting my arm outside of the front thigh and getting my fingers to the floor. This is usually very challenging for me. Maybe the stability of the back heel pressing into the wall helped. This time I started with a straight arm up overhead and then reached diagonally past the front knee as I came forward into the pose. Usually I first hook my elbow outside of the knee and then coerce my way into the pose -pressing my elbow against my thigh and revolving my chest more and more.

Padahastasana: I was putting more weight into the ball of the left foot. So I made attempts to even myself out there.

I did most of the poses at the wall for feedback. The most surprising thing was how I turned my torso slightly with my hands in reverse namaskar. I started with my back to the wall and felt my right arm and shoulderblade touching the wall but not my left. So I evened myself out before I took a step forward with one leg and folded over into the pose.