Saturday, 21 November 2009

Mysore practice day one and chakra bhandasana

I have recently noticed that my practice is reflected in the clarity of the breath. Sometimes the breath is smooth and flowing and the body follows.

Today was a nice practice, right from the first breath, not amazing but definitely not concrete like Thursday, more fluid and mostly focused. My breath though was free flowing which always feels great. Practicing with other people in a Mysore setting did strange things to my dristi. I enjoy watching others mostly stay on my own mat, with my own practice. This particular teacher allows the use of props, which means people end up doing all sorts of curious things.
I got put into Supta K by teacher, who asked if I can do it myself. I can now but he gave a nice deep adjustment, felt comfortable but legs were further round my head than I would get myself. Teacher does great adjustments and like the communication and discussion he gives too. Great teacher for me as someone who practices alone a lot.

That was the only adjust I got until backbends. I felt a bit too energised to stop second at Bhekasana but that's how far I am with my official Mysore teacher (strange way to put it maybe, but you can't just have lots of teachers giving you poses??), who I will see Monday. Anyways my chest area felt particularly open so I did 5 drop backs and up to release my excess energy. I then did the traditional half bends and got 2 assists at working on grabbing my ankles. Again really good assists and discussion, he knows how hard I can go and when I good go just a little bit deeper.
First time I grabbed my ankle with right arm but he told me to put it on the floor. I twisted to grab and am not ready for that entry yet. He encouraged me to take my hands back behind my head, like from the prayer at chest position, rather than the round and grab method. My right shoulder has something not quite right with it. Feels like it is just wrong, not pain really but definitely a limiter in things like that. My hands were maybe 5-10 cm away from my feet. Left arm could have gone in further but strange sensation in the other shoulder told me not to push it. Shoulder feels fine now.

I came across these funny Ashtanga cartoons the other day.  This is the backbend I was working on, chakra bhandasana.  A few months ago I wouldn't have thought I was bendy enough to even try, I thought it was a pose for the suerflexy folk of which I was not.  I guess gradually over time my back just opened up and then a teacher said they thought I could.   Suddenly I can go much deeper, sometimes belief can be a barrier.


  1. Hi Helen,

    Chakra Bhandasana, thats seriously bendy :-) A good teacher can give you belief that a pose will come if you keep working at it.

    Great to see you reading Anne Mustoe, she lives up the road from where you practice with H. I gave a talk on the same bill with her a couple of years ago.

  2. Cool, it was you that mentioned the book to me when we, met for a post practice breakfast. Just after that one of my students mentioned it to me and we did a book swap. The other books I am ready are a bit heavy at times, so I like to have one lighter read on the go.

    Chakra Bhandasana is seriously bendy, amazed I am even thinking about it. Grabbed my wrist in Supta Kurmasana today though, that was another one of those things that I thought only seriously bendy people did. Time to smash up the belief system.

  3. I had no thoughts of ever doing Supta K until Cary put me in it, then it was like a light going on and I gradually worked out how to do it on my own, if an unbendy person like me can do it, you certainly can. It just takes a mental leap of faith to believe its possible.

    Glad you like the book.

  4. I don't think your unbendy at all. Notably I have only seen your half bending video but I have read your blog and you do seem to be able to bend. Grabbed my wrist in supta kurmasana again today, two days in a row, that was the part that seemed superhuman, as my friend would say. Grabbing the wrist in supta kurmasana, is that really me?

  5. The hardest part of Supta K for me was crossing the feet.

    Here's a link to me actually landing on the floor.

  6. Cool you look much more confident too and great control. Drop backs are so heart opening, one of my favourite parts of the practice.

    Crossing the feet in Supta K is tricky. I can do it now but found it hard for a long time without assistance. I can now do a dwi pada entry which I find much easier. A teacher commented years back that it was easier to put my legs over my head than cross them in front, must be my hips.

    Have you seen Kill Bill? Crossing the feet in supta k reminds me of when she is trying to move her limbs again.

    Currently at home I'm doing both from the floor and crossing and dwi pada entry. I love the pose, find it really quietening.

  7. Its weird, sometimes I get to the tipping point and find I can control the decent to some degree and some days I just pass the point of no return and its just about getting the hands down. I love being able to do it, its just given me so much satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment. Doing Supta K was about the anatomy and just practising until it happened, but dropback has the added dimension of fear to overcome,you have to be awake and connected. But you were right to tell me it's a journey and not a destination.

    Females do seem to have more open hips, I can occassionally do LBH. Not seen Kill Bill.

  8. They look great, that's not strange at all. Part of learning to balance is going to far sometimes, not enough other times, you will find control more and more. There is something very liberating about dropping back. You worked hard at it, well done.

    For me, dropbacks and learning to come up released some emotional stuff which healed me more than anything else I have ever been through. It was a real change both in who and how I am. My non yogi friends noticed it too.

    Some women naturally flexible in the hips, not sure that's me. Took me years of Ashtanga (I had been doing hatha yoga for 7 years before that too) to do Mari D and Supta K. Although it is as more about flexibility, working on poses for that long is a journey of acceptance and eventual change.

    In Kill Bill Uma Therma wakes up from a coma and starts telling her body to move until she regains her mobility. When I was learning supta K, I would tell my leg to lift but it took a while before it did. Possibly this is lost on you if you haven't seen the movie but I'm sure you get the idea.

    Shame about the second David Swenson workshop. Are you coming to London Sunday as well. Maybe we could meet up Sunday despite practising in different Shalas. How far from Euston is YP?

  9. Hi Helen,

    Practice does feel unquantifiably different now I can do dropback, its almsot a feeling of if I can do that anything is possible.

    I'll be in London on Sunday too and if the bus gets there any later than it did this week I will probably end up at AYL, tho desperately want to practice with Cary at YP as it's her last Sunday this year. I have to go to Euston anyway to get home, so can see you at Pret on the concourse.

  10. Yes I know what you mean. I feel a bit like that after grabbing my ankles on Monday. Have just cut my hair, it is shorter than it has ever been since the age of eight, shoulder length. I feel really empowered.

    Nice one, about what time would you get there if you practice with Cary. I hope you make it to Cary, it's great when you can practice with a teacher you really connect with. Will be great to catch up and discuss experience of Swenson workshop.

  11. Hope I recognise you then, its quite a step cutting that much in one go.

    Should be back at Euston by 10.30ish. I was grateful for the practices I have done at AYL, but its too easy to "hide" there, Cary is good for my practice, even when she isn't adjusting me I have that feeling that she is watching, especially if I get lazy in a posture, its funny but she only has to come with a few feet of me and my thigh engages all by itself!

    See you Saturday and Sunday

  12. Lol, yes my students are like that, I walk towards them and they make the adjustment I had in mind. I feel the same way when H is in the room at AYL, I have a much more focused practice when he is about.

  13. Even if Cary is behind me and I havn't actually seen her my thigh seems to have ESP where she is concerned!

    Just found out last Sunday was Cary's last, we have Denise from AYL taking over this Sunday.So I get an AYL teacher wherever I end up laying my mat.

  14. Oh well Denise seems really nice. Sometimes it's good to have different teachers, they see different things. Is Cary off to Mysore?

  15. Rewind, I sent Cary an e-mail wishing her Happy holidays, she just replied to say the YP news e-mail is wrong and that both she and Denise will be there on Sunday and that she is gonna give me a serious backbending session before she leaves! So if you see someone crawling across the Euston concourse on all fours, that will be me!

    She's going to Australia from what I hear, she's not going to Mysore until June.