25 August 2015

Tonight's ashtanga practice

I started practice at 6.15pm this evening…determined.
Dinner had to wait.

My bedroom and my whole house are cold.  It’s nearing the end of winter here...not long to go until warmth returns to ease the stiffness out of my body and mind.

I turned on the bar heater as soon as I got home, didn’t even change my clothes, it was too cold.  I was wearing yoga tights anyway.
Still, starting yoga practice with three layers on isn’t ideal.  
I’m looking forward to summer.

It was a surprising practice.  A milestone for me, simply because I didn’t think I’d last for a full practice.  My definition of a full practice these days is based on time, not poses - one and a half hours on the mat is a full practice.
I start my yoga practice with neither strong will nor determination tonight, destination unknown.

I purposefully counted the 5 breaths in each pose to keep my mind on my practice.  It is a scattered superficial mind these days that skips from one thing to another without an anchor.  Tonight, counting the breath was my anchor.  Breathing was fully charged, counting was quick, so poses weren’t held for long.  Moving helped to warm my body.
I did a full ashtanga vinyasa practice up to Marichyasana C AND this was with a vinyasa after each side of the seated poses, something I haven’t done for years.

After Marichyasana C, the mood changed.
I lay down, pausing for a minute or two to sense what was going on in my mind and my body, and how to proceed.

Overriding the pause button, I did Setu Bandha twice while contemplating the potential agony of a full backbend.  Then I did 3 Urdhva Dhanurasanas – the first one was utterly painful and I couldn’t straighten my arms.  Four years of stress and trauma have blocked my shoulders and upper thoracic and although healing and opening will eventually come through the backbends, it is a painful process.
I am a beginner again.
After the first one, I convinced myself to do another.  Lifting my heels off the ground to get more stretch through my shoulders helped.  The third was successful, starting with heels off the ground and fully stretched arms, then slowly lowering my heels to the ground while retaining the entire stretch.

Gone are the limber days of dropbacks and tick-tocks of 10 years ago.
I am 55 years old and I am a beginner again.
This lifelong love affair with yoga is bittersweet.  It matures into a very real relationship.  We split up for a while, now we are back together.

After the 3 backbends I did the full finishing sequence of inversions.  20 breaths in Shoulderstand and Headstand and between 6 – 10 breaths in each of the intervening poses.

Parivritta Parsvakonasana – able to get into and hold the full pose tonight without modifying it.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana – left hip still catching and inflamed, though I took some time to move into it very slowly, 5 full breaths while standing upright to allow the hip to adjust, then moved carefully to a third of the way down before internal alarm bells rang.


Sarah said...

Deeply moved to find you here, after I, too, stepped away for a while. Your practice notes feel like having a friend beside me, though my practice differs. Grateful that you are there nearing winter's end, as I am here nearing end of summer.

nobodhi said...

I missed you Sarah. Have checked into your blog regularly as you too feel like a close soul friend. Thought of you many times lately as my new work involves growing food and gardening, and your quiet reflections on nature have always touched me deeply. My superficial practice notes are barely the tip of the iceberg, but for now they are helping me return to reflection and writing.