6 July 2010

Monday practice notes

The walk home from work was chilling.
It’s a cold, cold winter this year.
I started practice at 6.30pm with the Surya Namaskars and emerged from Savasana at 8.15pm.
So glad to be finding my way back into yoga again.
Perhaps I’m turning around one of life’s BIG corners here. The changes and shifts are massive but painstakingly slow.
Tonight’s practice surprise...I EASILY rolled up into Shoulderstand! Last night’s failed attempt was no doubt caused by the double blankets under my shoulders and the very concave curve of my spine where it dropped off the other edge of the blanket.

The first half of practice was pure and simple Primary, fuelled by breath and bandhas up to the end of the standing poses. I did add in one extra pose, Ardha Chandrasana (yes, that's me in the image) after Parsvottanasana, just because it popped into my head yesterday and I remembered how much I love being in this elegantly poised pose - which made me think about the other standing poses that are missing from the Ashtanga Primary practice – Parivritta Ardha Chandrasana, Virabhadrasana 3, Standing Splits - all up not many really.
Occasionally I see practice sequences that I think of trying out, but somehow they’re missing a lot of poses I need to do. And they don’t have the breadth of the Ashtanga Primary series – it seems to include almost every basic pose in a perfectly balanced sequence. Which is why it has remained my foundation for yoga practice for so many years.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana is the only standing pose I’m having to back off from a little. Tonight I worked in it by reaching behind and grabbing my foot with one hand, raising the other arm to vertical and bending forward to hold at the halfway point, torso and arm extended in a horizontal line with the floor. The hold is intense, not unlike Virabhadrasana 3, my balance has to be stabilised by firmly pulling up through the standing leg with an unwavering stream of energy and determination. Bending the upper body through 90 degrees at the hips places a lot of strain on my weakened lower back so core muscles must be engaged strongly to support the weight. There’s a fine line between rebuilding damaged muscle tissue through strength work and damaging it more – it takes intelligence and sensitivity to work within this fragile environment. So this is where I like to work in Ardha Baddha, only releasing the hand to the floor and assuming the final pose when my body (mind?) begins to tire.
On my second (damaged) side, the final pose doesn’t come any more. The turned out hip position of the bent leg combined with the forward bend through the hip is a double no-no. But that’s OK. Finding other places to work in a pose is more interesting than when a pose comes easily.

After the standing poses, I did a long handstand, then I thought about doing Pincha Mayurasana and thought NOT, then settled down to a series of backbends, culminating in two heavy-duty Urdhva Dhanurasanas that surgically opened my shoulders.

The finishing inversions were great: I rolled up into Shoulderstand, then over to Halasana, and then found my way into Urdhva Padmasana (full Lotus in Shoulderstand) – I could have stayed there all night it felt so good. A mere 20 breaths in Headstand before a few minutes in Padmasana and that was practice tonight.

Dinner: a big bowl of winter coleslaw with sunflower sprouts and seeds.
Then I baked a fig, ginger and walnut cake to give to a work colleague, and licked the bowl clean.
Turning 50 I am rediscovering yoga practice and hopefully turning slowly around a corner.


sarah said...

beautiful. thank you for posting and being present across the world in my stiffling hot 4th floor walk up apartment in brooklyn ny -- approaching 100 degrees today here -- i delight in your explorations in this moment. perhaps you will let go of the number "50" and find more and more of that self that is no body. we are, none of us, more than that.

nobodhi said...

Hi Sarah
Thanks for all of your recent comments, they are always lovely.
On a very deep level I understand the inherent emptiness of our bodies, selves and all phenomena. We are both ephemeral and eternal. In that state of mind, as I approached 50 years on earth it held no meaning for me, but quite strangely, it seems to have coincided with a major turning point, the ending of one life phase and the start of a new one and I'm enjoying witnessing (and recording) the unfolding of this life process. I make no excuses - it's pure self-indulgence!!!