It's raining in Southern California, fancy that. Well, it's what passes for rain here. Most other places that have real weather would call this spit, but we'll take it. I thought the rain would cause people to sleep in. I was expecting a smaller than usual class but we had enough people that the later arriving folks had to fit themselves in by putting their mats down in the middle.
Interestingly, most of the people who were at the pranayama class that ends just before our class left. I guess they're the ones who get in the legit 5-6 classes a week and don't feel the need to augment with a Saturday class.
Our class today was an Improv class. Our main teacher, Tim, is away at a Yoga conference in Seattle. One of the classes Tim is giving there is on Hanumanasana.
Borrowed from Tim's website
To prepare for this, he apparently spent the better part of his recent Improv class doing prep and research poses for hanumanasana. Our teacher today decided to share that experience with us. She worked our groins over good.
I need that kind of work. My hip flexors are fairly tight. They're also an area for me that doesn't keep any degree of flexibility unless I'm constantly working on it. I think I've actually once, only once, gotten into hanumanasana far enough that both of my legs were down to the ground.
The hips are kind of interesting. There's so many actions involved there. At the start of most Improv classes, the teacher will ask what areas of the body the students would like to work on that day. Almost invariably, somebody will call out a request for "hip openers". "Okay", you can almost hear the teacher think, "Open what? The hip flexors? The extensors? The adductors, abductors, transductors, rotators, etc.?" The hips are involved in some way in just about every pose. Which makes it easy for the the teacher. Any posture they want do will probably qualify as a hip opener.
I can do some "hip" things reasonably well, like baddha konasana, or janu C, I sneak in the occasional viranchyasana B (the one where from Janu C, you roll the foot over so that the toes are pointing out behind you while you sit on the heel) if the mysore teacher isn't looking. I can stand in tadasana with my feet angled back at an almost 45 degree angle. But hanumanasana? Maybe someday. Back bends, especially coming up and dropping back? Another work long in progress. Samakonasana? Maybe some other lifetime. There are people I know who can do just about the opposite of me. They can slide into hanumanasana cold. They go into samakonasana with about as much effort as I exert in crossing my legs. Yet, some of them can't do Janu C, or their knees are flapping in the breeze in baddha konasana, etc. Everybody has something, especially with the hips. Probably the resting degree of internal or external rotation determines someone's areas of expertise/weakness. My legs externally rotate naturally. When I walk on the beach, my foot prints point way out. Others who may be more knock-kneed or whose hips rotate more internally will have a different range of motion.
Anyway, back to class today. After we did all that hip flexor stretching, we did some shoulder work. I figured we were leading up to kapotasana. I was looking forward to that because I have been making gradual but steady progress in that one. I was hoping that extensive hip work would allow me that extra range to be able to get a good grip on my toes. But, we didn't go that far. We did do some back bending work, just not kapotasana. One interesting adjustment we all did together ( this was an interactive class at times today) was in dhanurasana. Here's a link to Lino doing something very similar. When the adjustor lifts, it puts a real good stretch into the back.
After we did back bends, we did another "team" adjustment exercise where we sort of helped each other drop back into a backbend. I felt kind of bad about that, because I get pretty sweaty. I changed shirts to a dry one, but I imagine the ladies who got stuck with me still felt a little slimy. This one required three people. One student, and two adjustors. The student started off in a standing position. The two adjustors linked arms behind the student and placed their arms against his/her back. Then they provided gentle support as the student leaned back into a backbend.
It was a good class all in all. Improv classes are a little different than normal classes. For one thing, you never really know what the sequence is going to be, so it's hard to be able to play those "I'm gonn go all out here" or "I'm gonna conserve some strength for later" games. You just have to go along and see what develops. It always seems harder to me to keep the internal heat up in these kinds of classes though. There's a fair amount of verbal cueing and talking thru postures, even stopping the class for demonstration by the teacher as needed. The stop and starting kind of causes a loss of intensity or something. I still like them though. They're a lot of fun, they open your eyes and body and they humble you as well.
But, this was my third class in 24 hours, so I'm starting to feel a little sore. Famine to feast. The gluttony, the gluttony. Hopefully, I can do some more tomorrow. For now, it's motrin and bed
BTW, if anyone reads this... AND they are going to that Yoga conference in Seattle, if you go to Tim's class, post something on it over on EZBoard