16 November 2007

Quiet inside the mat

Tuesday 13th November 2007

Dammit I feel good – why don’t I do this every day?
Thank God for Renate – if we didn’t have out Tuesday and Thursday practices together in the Gallery my practice might fizzle out to nothing.

I ignored the fact that it was day 2 of my period (supposedly a ladies holiday). It was much more important to get on the mat since I hadn’t been on it since last Friday. I presumptuously thought practice would end up being Surja Namasakars, standing poses, then a passive menstrual sequence. I was expecting to feel slow, heavy and femininely fragile, but it wasn’t so. Instead I had a really strong Ashtanga practice right up to the backbends, then cooled down with a few forward bends instead of doing the fiishing inversion sequence.

Parivritta Parsvakonasana
It was not an easy practice physically, but mentally I was right into it…plenty of strong determination and joy today. Parivritta Parsvakonasana didn’t faze me today, in fact I met it head on by doing the classic version for five breaths (arm extended overhead), focussing on keeping my back foot grounded without letting the opposite hip swing out, then I did five breaths in the bound version (arms wrapped behind the back and under the thigh), again keeping the back foot grounded.
Staying for 10 breaths, I really got to work the twist through my upper back and shoulders and increase my leg strength– if the legs aren’t working strongly in this pose there’s a collapse through the hips and the rising energy gets blocked in the pelvis instead of travelling upwards to invigorate the upper body twist. But I pulled it off today. Walking up all those hills on the weekend must have strengthened my legs which sure helps the yoga.
Often for this difficult pose I just assume the shape then count down the breaths until I can get out of it and on to the easy Prasarittas.

Supta K was again the low point of practice – low point maybe not a good description - perhaps its the high point because it presents the greatest challenge. All the other poses kind of build up to it.
Today I didn’t shy away from the pose, I did my best trying to set it up right from the start, placing my hsoulers as deep as possible behind my thighs first (from the standing forward bend position). Even here my lower back felt challenged, its like an instant energy drain. As soon as my lower back is put under stress, mula bandha disappears and I’m denied access to any energy. It just drains away and the tap is turned off.
Kurmasana was great – my legs were extended more forward than out (I think they’re not supposed to go wider than the mat) and the strong energetic extension through my legs kept my feet off the floor for the full 5 breaths – for me that’s a good indication of success in Kurmasana.

All the following poses were magical – from here I moved easily into a different dimension, that other reality where Truth resides. Prana pulsated through me, riding on the flow of the breath. Baddha Padmasana was deep and sonorous, I love it when that happens, then when I moved into the final Padmasana, my breath became otherworldly – real pranayama happened naturally…my body spontaneously paused the breath at the height of the inhalation without any mental intention to do so, and I remained suspended here with absolutely no effort for what seemed like half a minute…not needing to breathe at all…just resting in the absolute stillness of time, in that expansive dimension that exists between the inhalation and the exhalation. God it’s so deathly quiet here, but so serene. I didn’t need to breathe at all. There…is the experience of yoga.

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