I've been trying to blog since Wednesday and have started but I have a lot to say and not much time to write. So the short story is, on Wednesday I grabbed my heels in Kapotasana, all by myself. This has been one hell of a journey for me, and continues to be, hence the long story which is in progress. After doing the pose I cried both happy and sad, my whole body trembled, like my whole body was releasing something. I feel that a part of me that was inside is now free to be outside. I feel healed and whole, I'm grateful but it is still REALLY HARD!
I am on the train home from London. Had a lovely weekend. Have started reading cutting through spiritual materialism and it's really making me think. I will blog more about that when I am by my computer because I want to quote from it. But for now in terms of practice I made a commitment to focus on breath, dristi and bandhas and just let the outer form, the asana be. Yes, I know that's what your meant to do and yes I thought I was doing it already but this journey into the moment is a challenge if it were easy i would not have to do all this mad stuff on our mats each day.
Ironically when I made this commitment which felt like a kind of surrender, there were some outer changes. I was less tired at the end, yesterday the teacher said she my practice was good, that it had changed and today I got a new pose.
Yes the journey with karandavasana has begun. Initial thoughts are, I am up for the challenge, I like working on hard stuff. It's a good job I am working with my ego, because it is going to be hard to work on this at home alone. Today I was assisted in and out but at home teacher said to work on getting into lotus and balancing there. He also gave me some advise on how to work on that. I know I can do lotus in headstand so it is theoretically possible, I guess. It will be two weeks until my next shala visit. I have more than enough to play with!
Had a great weekend in London, catching up with friends, hanging out with my man and going to mysore classes, happy days :-) Marc was going to come home this weekend but they wanted him to work on Sunday, so I'm going to go to go to London instead, which means I will be in London 3 weekends in a row, including last weekend. When in London I go to a mysore class, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, to maximise my access to teachers. So Thursday is now primary day and Friday is off. This means I am getting 3 shala practices and 3 at home practices. I like my at home practices as much as the shala ones a it gives me a chance to integrate what I've learnt. My teacher only teaches weekdays, so I end up going to 3 different teachers. I got lot of help with pincha which was challenging me at the weekend. It was at home that it has started to come together though. I realised that I was feeling under pressure to get up and not fall on anyone at the shala. This pressure was entirely my own manifestation, although I am sure the people near me were grateful I did not fall on them!!! :-) So my mission for this weekend is not to do the perfect pincha mayurasana in the shala but just to chill and do whatever I can.
So re pincha, what I learnt that has helped. Keep head down while coming up (from my teacher) walk in as much as possible. I am then doing some prep as outlined in kinos second series dvd, lifting one leg up at a time as far over as possible. I realised I was telling people, I couldn't walk in far enough or lift the first leg up as far as much as I needed to in order to come up with control. When I heard myself, I realised that this was pushing some kind of button in me and instead of saying I couldn't, it was time to find out how . The best tip was from my ever supportive partner, who sat and watched some you tube videos with me. Now my partner is not a yoga teacher or a yogi but he has a lot of martial arts experience and has an amazing understanding of body mechanics, he has taught me a lot. He suggested I stopped trying to get up for a bit and break it down, lift the first leg up and then work on getting second leg off the ground. Such a great idea, thanks Marc :) Firstly it took the pressure off, and I stopped flailing and kicking like a donkey!! Secondly I stopped moving from my back foot and more from my centre. Thirdly when I did this I started to get the pelvis over the central point and then I can balance and bring the leg fully up with control and balance. So I still need practice and I've been getting lots, but I have a method and it's working which is great.
When I went on my retreat with Louise Ellis, we did yin yoga in the evenings. I loved it! So calming and such a great balance to the astanga practice. When I was working on mari D, supta K, and garba, I used to do a fair bit of yin to open my hips up but more recently I have just been doing badha konasana, which I have been doing for 10 minutes every day for years now. I have a drink in it, while I wake up. Anyway, Louise suggested doing some yin before practice. She also suggested doing ujayi in the yin poses, I love that, really allows me to smooth out the breath and tame the monkey mind. I found it hard to find time to do any yin on top of my long practice but since I have been split have been exploring it.
I think at the moment, I am more strong than flexible and so the yin is really balancing for my body and balancing energetically for intermediate, I think too. It is really meditative and doing it before practice allows me to begin my practice in a softer, quieter way. It is not orthodox I know, I'm over that, I mean I wouldn't do it in the shala but at home I will do whatever is right for me. When I got split, Kevin texted me to say, that in theory my practice would be much shorter. I had to laugh at the in theory part. I spend about the same amount of time practicing, although not all of my practice is ashtanga.
So I do my badha konasana, I don't really count this as practice as I let my mind wonder and wake up here, sometimes I read in it. Then 5 minutes in these for poses eka pada raja kapotsana (front leg only) does this have it's own name? Supta virasana to counter cycle commuting and hanging off chair to open upper back. Then 10 minute of breathing in padmasana with Michael gannons pranayama CD. I'm just doing the breathing for week one which is sama vvritti, equal breathing. Doing this breathing pre practice really helps to keep my breathing mellow during intermediate intense spots, which in turn keeps my body and mind calm :-)
It is amazing to see the changes in my practice this month. It's now back to where it was pre split. I guess my body just had to adapt to the lack of primary. Upper back is definately oppening and although my back has been more open than it is right now, it is more consistently open and drop backs feel much nicer. I feel much more energised when I work more from upper back and back bends make more sense physically.
Been continuing to work on kapotasana with my repeating sequence, see previous post. Before I got split I was nearly getting into it alone and getting and staying in it alone if assisted. I worked really hard to get there and went through so much personal transformation. I am actually starting to love this pose for the change it has taken me through and continues to take me through. When I got split I was back where I started creeping for my toes. The main difference though was that I knew what to do, I have had lots of great advise from teachers on this. So my body may not have been flexible enough but I knew how to work on that safely with my body and after just 6 weeks I am 3 quarters of the way up my foot again. I have really gotten to know my feet with this one, I can feel how far up I am. Some days I am nearly getting my heels solo. This is funny because after I got split I half surrendered to this, I though well it might take years but I will work on it and one day I will do it. I guess doing this pose to me symbolises conquering fear and that's why I continue to work at it. Now it's close there is some expectation, which I don't like, will today be the day, etc.
Oh well something else to let go of.
The leg behind the head stuff, I can do but it needs work to get them deeper. I am just allowing that to happen though, no repeats. I mean you put each leg behind the head 3 times anyway! Tittibhasana C hurts for less time, man that is intense for me, guess it's the cycling.
Pincha is a bit up in the air, or rather it isn't. Initially I was kicking up which sometimes worked well and I was learning how much force I needed to do it free standing. My teacher gave me some great advise two weeks ago and it made perfect sense when he was there but at home, it's been a bit of a struggle. I think it's better to do it this way though as it is more controlled. I see my teacher on Monday so I can clarify. He said to walk in and take first leg up as much a possible then bend the other leg to come up. I suspect I may not be flexible enough to walk in close enough or lift first leg far enough back, although I think I managed fine in the shala (it's warmer there though). I've been adding an extra kick with the lifted leg which brings the other off the floor. Sorry am I boring you, anyway that works sometimes and I am starting to get up more often, once up I can generally balance and it feels great. Hopefully I will get some advise on this, this weekend.
Trip to London this weekend and I will see my partner for the first time in two weeks as well as my London yoga friends :-)