I failed to get up at 5.30am for practice this morning.
To make up for this, I did an evening practice when I got home from work.
I started at 6.45pm and although I had the week 31 - 35 Light on Yoga sequence open in front of me, I knew I wouldn't be doing a by-the-book practice.
My room felt particuarly freezing tonight, and so did my body.
The Padmasana warm up pose seemed to exaggerate my stiffness so I abandoned all notions of getting into and early Padmasana in Headstand and just started the practice without any expectations...
Instead of all the Headstand variations, I just did a simple 50 breath Headstand, then 5 breaths on each side in the twisted variation...7 minutes in all.
After recovering in childs pose and dog pose, I did a Shoulderstand for 40 breaths, then Halasana, Parsva Halasana and Eka Pada Sarvangasana (one leg pointing straight up, the opposite leg lowers to the floor). Too cold and stiff for fancy variations tonight.
I can now sense the profound effect these inversions have on my physiology. Already I felt nourished and transformed. Any further poses would be simply icing on the cake.
Pressing on I lowered down from Shoulderstand keeping my legs up at 90 degrees then moved straight into the twisted Jatara Parvatasana, Supta Padangusthasana then the two Navasanas. Before tonight, I don't think I've ever touched my nose to my leg quite so easily in Supta Padangusthasana.
The wonderful thing about tonight's practice was I had no expectations and no goals.
There were no rules.
I was free to explore whatever I needed to do, free to wander off course.
And I did.
After the Navasanas, I moved into the next pose Ustrasana. My body still hadn't warmed up and it took some time to stretch it up and open into the backbend, but I so enjoyed the slow quiet journey into this pose, not pushing my body, or even trying to stretch it, but allowing it to open gently in its own time, and it did.
Virasana was sweet. I'm always surprised to find how askew my body is in some of the symmetrical poses. I notice it in small things - one hand sits on the knee slightly differently to the other hand (tension in one shoulder seems to cascade and spiral down the length of my right arm), one thigh is turned out more than the other so the front ankles don't sit evenly on the floor. I try to correct all the imbalances before laying back into Supta Virasana.
I put no time limit on poses tonight, so I don't know how long I was there before I arched up into Paryankasana. It was pure, sensual ecstasy. My upper back and neck rejoiced, my triceps stretched releasing my elbows towards the floor. I arched into a writhing fish, and breathed open every cell in my upper torso.
Going from this back bend into Janu Sirsasana was difficult. My body was still cold so I turned around and positioned my back close to the heater instead of my feet. My stiff lower back smiled as it soaked up the heat and I gently found my way into the twist of Janu Sirsasana. I stayed...and stayed...and closed my eyes...knowing that with each breath I was releasing and descending without any effort whatsoever. My focus here was on my extended leg, engaging the thigh and drawing up the inner leg seam to energise the root chakra. Another sensual pose that pulled me deeply into its folds. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana was the final pose...and an anti climax that shot me back up to the surface.
This 40 minute practice fell way short of the Iyengar Week 31 - 35 sequence, but it was nothing short of perfect for tonight.