8 January 2008

Reflections from the Mat

Tuesday 11th December

Shortcuts creep into practice don’t they…I plead guilty to more than occasionally skipping Supta Kurmasana, and sometimes even Bhuja Pindasana. Tackling the poses that poke into my lumbar/hip problem area needs a strong resolve and I can be easily persuaded to take the easy way out.
There are a few other poses on my ‘disposable list’ that I can skip if time is short or if I’m just feeling too lazy to practice properly.

Today wasn’t a lazy day so it was an almost full primary practice, skipping over Kurmasana, Supta Kurmasana and Urdhva Paschimottanasana. But I made up for these in other ways so I don’t feel quite so guilty – I did 6 Surya B’s by mistake and spent extra breaths in all the Ardha Padmasana poses, Janu Sirsasana B and all the Marichyasanas to give my stiff bits extra time to release their grips.
And all other poses had my full attention and application, I didn’t miss any vinyasas, and I did 9 perfect rolls in Garbha Pindasana and all 5 Navasana with ALL the Lolasana lifts in between. My latest investigation is how to stay in the same place for the Lolasana lifts instead of inching back on my mat after each one.

Urdhva Dhanurasana
The first of my standard three backbends was a painful stretch but for the remaining two, I prepared better by pressing up just onto my head then walking my hands in quite deeply before pushing up into the backbend with heels high off the ground. After a couple of breaths straightening my arms, I slowly lowered the heels down, maintaining the full arch of the spine.
Urdhva Dhanurasana means ‘upward facing wheel’. The name of the pose gives a clue to how to work in it. Visualising my spine as a wheel really helps to internalise and express the intention of the pose. By conjuring up the perfect shape of the wheel/circle in my conscious mind I can transpose it into my body so it assumes the shape.

Beautiful moments of insight permeate the body when it listens and responds to a visualisation (eg. the circle), not just the voice of instruction.

In this pose, a teacher can tell you to arch your spine, to straighten your legs, spread the arc evenly throught the length of your spine, press the shoulderblades forward, etc…etc…but when you really visualise your body as a circular wheel and let it BECOME that wheel through implied imagination, there is a yoke, a union of body and mind at a much more profound level than what we can achieve when the body is just following physical instructions.
The body actually absorbs and BECOMES the pose instead of DOING the pose – a very different experience.

After Urdhva Dhanurasana this unitivity (my newly made up word: union + activity) spilled over into the finishing poses and these all became sensitive expressions of beauty, strength and truth. Sarvangasana felt perfectly vertical, and after an inner prompt in Halasana I drew one of my thoracic vertebrae into line to get a strong upright energetic lift through the spine. Knees gently dropped for Karna Pindasana and I used my arms to squeeze them close into my ears and give a little more weight to help my lumbar curl over a bit more.
Karna Pindasana, once such an easy pose, now needs a little extra help before I feel satisfied I’ve squeezed the juice out of it.
Then it was back up to Sarvangasana and into Urdhva Padmasana – breathing from a strong mula bandha – what power we have locked up in this energetic vortex at the core of our body. The entry into Pindasana was cautious, this being another pose that pricks pushes the terror button in my lumbar, but I managed to wrap my arms tightly around my lotus legs, interlock my fingers well, and squeeze the knees inward, stretching all my lower back and spinal muscles and the nerves that animate them.
Matsyasana was incredibly strong and arched and Uttana Padasana was so gratifying I stayed a full ten breaths which elicited 3 large cracks from my lower spine as it readjusted to take the weight of compression.
After those two backarching poses, my lumbar wouldn’t curl over for Chakrasana so I did the baby alternative - laying on my back with knees squeezed into my chest to approximate the Chakrasana roll safely. Headstand was fantastic: mula bandha strong, spine straight, energy moving to the crown. I found the very tip of the iceberg and balanced on it. My neck naturally adjusted in minutely subtle ways to maximise the upward flow of prana throught the main channel.

My male friend asked me recently what I could possibly write about in a blog when I have no interest or knowledge about what’s going on in the world!!
He’s a bit challenged by the fact that I don’t watch TV, read newspapers, listen to radio and rarely socialise, leaving me happily oblivious to the affairs of the world.
He, on the other hand, is quite active and involved in business and society.

The question came out of the blue and stunned me for a moment. Then a little laugh bubbled up. I decided not to even TRY to answer that question. Where to start?
The question remains unanswered and he remains perplexed.
Perhaps an example that some men really are from Mars, and some women from other dimensions…

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