3 July 2011

Chandra Krama and Silence

With my camping weekend abandoned I have three days ahead of me with no plans and no commitments.

What a luxury...instead of wasting this precious block of time off, I'll use it wisely and do some serious yoga and meditation.

Yoga came first - it took a little while to work out what would be the most beneficial and appropriate practice to do this morning, but after an hour of writing and a quick blog surf it appeared - I came across Matthew Sweeney's Chandra Krama sequence. I'd never heard of this sequence before. Intuitively I sensed it was perfect for me on day two of my menstrual period.

The sequence took me two and a half hours which included a 15 minute Savasana, quite a marathon, especially as it unrelentingly targets the hips and pelvis, areas that have hardened up to protect my damaged lumbar spine .

Before I started I tried a mathematical equation to work out how long it might take: I thought I would do a one and a half hour practice, so I divided that by the number of poses in the sequence, and it worked out to about 30 seconds for each pose - not likely...

It was 10.30am, I had all day...

Chandra Krama is a great sequence, there were sections that dug deep into my hips and excavated deeply held tension. The Gomukasana forward bends were excruciatingly painful for me...not in a physical way, more like being confronted with a truth about yourself that's blatantly ugly.

Holding Gomukasana in an upright position is relatively easy for me, but as soon as I try to go forward, the blockage is right there in my face. I can't go more than a few inches. Its the same when I try to go forward in Baddha Konasana or Virasana.

The blockage isn't muscular tension...rather, when my hips are in these positions, the forward movement is blocked by bone on bone - and there's not much I can do to change that unless the cartilage grows back in my facet joints to separate and grease the worn down bones. Some muscular tension is inevitably held in this area for protective reasons, and its interesting to visit these 'stuck' places to see how much tension can actually be released.

I'm a firm believer that whatever tension we release in the body, a corresponding tension is released in the mind - and vice versa, when a mental block is brought to our attention and we recognise it, face up to it and release it, there comes a corresponding release of stuck subtle energy somewhere in the body.

The Chandra Krama sequence focusses on deeply twisting in the hips - standing poses include Parivritta Trikonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana; try doing Parsvottanasana with hands interlocked behind your back and lifted up to the ceiling - that was another surprise pose for me and it took a good deal of leg strength to hold it.

I loved the counter poses inserted between the twists, especially Supta Paschimottanasana followed by Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge). Every Bridge pose had to be gently squeezed up and open, my hips gratefully giving up their protective tension to find liberation in the open vulnerability.

The twisted variation in the Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana prep pose was a new one for me which left me unsure of exactly what I was supposed to be doing apart from not hurting myself.

On the home stretch are a few supine poses with legs vertical, legs split sideways, legs bent with feet together etc. I got to the Baddha Konasana one and couldn't work out how the model on the poster (is it Matthew?) could keep his legs in that position without holding his feet! Aaahhh, then it dawned on me - this final group of poses were supposed to be done with legs up the wall, which wasn't clear in the tiny poster pictures that I found on a random website.

And legs up the wall was bliss.

Since I've been more regularly doing half Ashtanga practices in the mornings and an evening Iyengar Week 31-35 sequence I'd forgotten about the Iyengar luxury of 'restorative' poses. Legs up the wall (Viparitta Karani) is the beloved queen of all restorative poses.

Post practice I tried to ascertain any special nuances or changes in my subtle energy, but there was nothing special except that general feeling of well being.

After practice, a late lunch: a giant bowl of coleslaw full of sunflower sprouts and a couple of dolmades. Not an completely raw food lunch today, but I have to eat up my campfood.


2 hours of meditation followed my late lunch.

Did I say meditation? Hardly!

More like 2 hours in a half dream state - though the occasional fleeting recognition that my tenuous hold on the breath was lost in the fog provided a momentary spark of insight.

Despite being lost in fog, the simple act of sitting silently for two hours quietened my energy field, heightened my sensitivity and altered my consciousness in a weirdly deep way.

The time had not been wasted.

There is something very special about silence.

Not the kind of silence that is simply the absence of noise, but the kind of silence that is rich and fully inhabited.

Those times I've been away camping alone, immersed in my own private world of silence and solitude I've become attuned to this rich, fertile silence. Silence grows around me as I sit, then it creeps up my sides and enters my ears, like a magic beanstalk that grows in the night. And the funny thing is that the longer you are immersed silence, the more you can hear, so the closer you get to silence the more it recedes.

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