Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 41 (Ariana)

For weeks 41-44 the instructions are:

"Consolidate all the positions concentrating on the asanas which were left out in Course 1."

I was really excited to move on to week 41 until I saw this. I assumed it meant to combine all the poses from weeks 31-40. That amounts to roughly 98. I didn't have time for all those poses nor did I want to do all of them. I had to make decisions. I was free to make my own sequence loosely based on weeks 31-40. This was daunting and I came close to deciding to skip weeks 41-44 and move right into 45 with a prescribed sequence. I am happy that I held fast and gave it a shot.

First I needed to warm up so I did some A and B Sun Salutations. Actually first I spent 20 minutes deciding what music to listen to - which ended being more of a distraction as I practiced.  

Then I continued with abdominal strengthening and expanded on the Jatara Parivartanasana/Navasana/Ardha Navasana section. I added Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (basically leg lifts) to strengthen the rectus abdominis. Jatara Parivartansasana strengthens the oblique abdominal muscles. Then more rectus abdominis strengthening with Navasana and Ardha Navasana. Sometimes I think abdominal strengthening is a great way to start a class. It makes a lot of sense to strengthen the core before start moving and stretching the spine. In retrospect I should have added Kapalabati breath to strengthen transverse abdominals as well.

Then I felt ready for headstand and shoulderstand. I am still working on stabilizing my headstand away from the wall. It was good today. Then I added down dog and handstand to release the neck.  I did some variations while in shoulderstand.

I then referred to the sequence for seated or supine postures such as Supta Padangustasana, Ustrasana, Virasana, Supta Virasana (I really need to more of this one), Janusirsana, Upavista Konasana, Half lotus, Ardha Baddha Paschimottanasana, Marichyasana 1 and 3, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Salabhasana, Dhanurasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana and supine twists. Funny how I resisted finishing with this pose many times and now I have come to prefer it because it stretches the abs and releases the compression in the abdomen after all the forward bends. That is why it is always best to keep an open

As Thich Nhat Hanh says:

"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 am sure he is referring to more profound aspects of our knowledge, but I feel it applies here too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 40 (Ariana)

This is the last time for this sequence. I listened to Healing Ragas 2 - Raga Charukeshi and Raga Kirwani. This music turned the practice into a grounding and meditative process. I think the music helped me turn off my brain and be present in my body. I moved with stillness. I kept coming back to Tadasana or Prasarita Padotanasana in some cases as a symmetrical and balanced starting point. A reset posture. Before I moved into any pose I started with an awareness of the ground and what parts of my body were pressing into to it for stability. Then I would kind of meditate on that feeling for a breath or two. I was in no hurry and moved slowly into and out of each posture. I went inward and feel very centered as a result.

Milestones - my daughter started kindergarten. We have been so focused on getting her off to a good start and now we are easing (sometimes not so easy) into a routine.

Perspicacious - my favorite word lately. It means possessing mental acuity or sharpness. My grandmother taught me to spell this word when I was in elementary school. I remember sitting on an orange swivel chair at a round table in her kitchen while she cooked at the stove. We went over the spelling again and again and again. I remember how good I felt when I finally got it right. I still remember the rhythm at which we practiced the spelling. This vivid memory came back to me after my grandmother passed away this September. She died on Labor Day. I am blessed to have had such an inspiring grandmother and to have so many sweet memories of her.