29 November 2010

An Ashtanga coffee practice

Pure espresso-yoga heaven this morning.

I was amazed at how many poses I could do, and actually DID do.
Energy, strength and flexibility all came together for an amazing Ashtanga practice today.

Thank you and namaste to whoever discovered coffee beans and to all the hard working third world farmers, western scientists and baristas who have perfected the art of growing, roasting and brewing those magical beans.

Rarely would I practice straight after a coffee.
Coffee and breakfast come well deserved AFTER early morning yoga practice.
Evening yoga practices are devoid of artificial stimulation because I don’t drink coffee after lunchtimes.

Today was the exception to the rule for reasons too boring to go into.

Rocket fuel propelled me into practice and provided starry eyed bravado to go where I hadn’t been for a very long time.

There are still a few poses I have to modify in the sequence – mostly the bent knee to chest twists such as Parivritta Parsvakonasana, Marichy ABC.
And there are still a few poses I won’t even attempt (Marichy D and Bhuja through to Supta K), but apart from those exceptions I did the entire sequence from beginning to end with correct breath count and vinyasas between sides. I was flying on a lovely light caffeine breeze.

Don’t get me wrong - it wasn’t easy - with only 5 breaths in each pose a sense of urgency presses me forward into the depth of the pose much earlier than what is comfortable. That’s one of the reasons the Ashtanga practice is so intense, there’s no time to relax, hang out and allow the body to open in its own time. I reach my natural flexibility limit in each pose by about the second breath then forge ahead into new territory, feeling and working every resistant muscle, tendon and joint within that short space of five breaths - then suddenly…it’s time to move on, ready or not, whether it felt long enough or not. Most often I’d like to stay longer, just another breath or two to explore the intricate nuances more seductively, but no, that would defeat the purpose amd the context. Ashtanga is about moving and breathing, soaring up to the heavens on an uplifting breeze (and am extra shot of caffeine). Extended deep sea exploration is not conducive to this practice…save it for a quiet evening.

Utkatasana done properly in tandem with Ujjiya breath and an authentic Mula Bandha, dramatically and instantly changes the sound and quality of my breath - it becomes a fierce wind blowing through an enormous tunnel. Today this occurred in a few other poses as well giving testament to the energetic quality of the entire practice.

I did get a little mixed up with the pose sequence after Baddha Konasana. It’s been quite a while since I’ve reached this later part of the practice - at least a year. So at Baddha Konasana I was caught by surprise when I couldn’t remember the sequence - did Upavista Konasana or Supta Padangusthasana come next? I got it wrong but it didn’t matter, I did both poses anyway.

And there was plenty of juice left for three Urdhva Dhanurasanas, with no warm up backbends, just a short stop in Bridge pose on my way up (no quad stretches or Dhanurasana or Ustrasana – flying strictly by the book today). Straightening my arms for the first backbend was sheer will power but after that my body softened and opened allowing me to stretch open all the muscles through the front of my body and work strongly in the backbend.

And the glorious finishing poses…sweet, rich icing on the cake with the delicious Urdhva Padmasana, Matsyasana, and Urdhva Paschimottanasana, somehow they satisfy the soul deeply and thoroughly when placed at the end of this exhilarating practice, much more so than when done in isolation in another (eg. Iyengar) context.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

your exhilaration lights up my gray cool morning