I moved on to the next sequence in Iyengar's course tonight, week 36 - 40.
It's very different to the last sequence (Week 31 - 35) and much, much longer.
It starts with the same Headstand and Shoulderstand sequences as in Week 31 - 35:
My Headstand balance wasn't so solid tonight - I wasn't wobbly but there was something blurry going on behind my eyes which disorientated me. I fell out of Parivrittaikapada Sirsasana but went immediately back up in to the Headstand again and continued on. Although I got closer than ever to getting both my legs into Padmasana in Sirsasana on the first side, my head and eyes were starting to complain by this time, so I came down and rested in Childs Pose.
Still, that was 8 minutes in Headstand.
The Shoulderstand sequence felt reliable and solid - all the poses are accessible now, perhaps my weakest pose in the Shoulderstand sequence is Parsva Pindasana, where the legs are in Padmasana with the knees folded down towards the armpits and the legs and pelvis twisted around to the side. My difficulty comes in any pose where the knees are bent towards the armpits, so this pose is one that requires care and full attention.
The entire Shoulderstand sequence was 17 minutes tonight.
All up - 25 minutes of inversions to start the practice...
From there the sequence moves on to Jatara Parivartanasana and Supta Padangusthasana, the same as in the week 31-35 sequence. I followed these with Chakrasana, not realising this pose isn't in the new sequence. I think I'll keep doing it here anyway - I have to fully relax my neck to safely roll over and the imperative to release the tension in this area is really beneficial (especially after spending the day in front of a computer).
The sequence then boldly moves on into standing poses and although I don't always feel up to doing standing poses at the end of the day they were strong, quiet poses tonight, vehicles into a deeply grounded practice:
Trikonasana and Parivritta Trikonasana
Parsvakonasana and Privritta Parsvakonasana
Virabhadrasana 1 and 111
Then a series of poses that took hamstring stretches from the maximum to the extreme: Padangusthasana, Pada Hastasana, Uttanasana (after which I inserted Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana, because it seemed to follow on so naturally and it topped off this mini sequence of standing forward bends perfectly).
Then balances: firstly Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana - I looked up the image of this pose in Light On Yoga as I wasn't sure if, in this sequence, it included both A (leg raised to the front) and B (leg raised to the side) variations. I was surprised at what I found: in the image Mr Iyengar has his chin to his raised knee, but he has both hands clasped around his raised foot with a Krounchasana grip (it doesn't include UHP B). So I did his version of the grip....NOT easy, the hamstring is stretched more and the top of the thigh bone is drawn quite deeply into the hip joint.
After this came Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana and Vatayanasana (Horse pose)
Vatayanasana was a pose I hadn't tried for a long time. I fell out of it backwards on the first side, but got into it and held it easily on the second side. For a moment I thought about doing the first side again to see if it came easier second time around, but decided to move on and leave it until next time. This new sequence of poses is foreign to my system and my body will take some time to adjust and begin to assimilate it.
To the floor next for Janu Sirsasana (always a joy to meet up with this lovely gentle nourishing friend), Parivritta Janu Sirsasana and Ardha Baddha Paschimottanasana.
I looked at my watch, it was 8.15pm - an hour and a quarter had passed since I started, and I was only one third of the way through the sequence!
No way was I going to do it all tonight.
At that point I decided to skip the rest of the seated poses and go straight to the finishing backbends: Salabhasana, Dhanurasana, Parsva Dhanurasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana (though I added in Ustrasana before Urdhva Dhanurasana).
I think for the next practice I'll do the usual sequence of inversions to start, the standing poses that follow, and then jump to the seated poses that I didn't get to tonight.
Doing the entire sequence would probably take me two and a half hours, but it looks like a great sequence so I'm keen to take on the challenge to build up to it.