Saturday, June 14, 2003

I tried several times to post about yesterday's practice, but I kept getting interrupted by work. Now that I'm home, I'm having to start all over. My attempt to save what I had thrown together in a draft got lost somewhere along the line. Sometime soon I'm gonna switch over to suburbfreak's system. Blogger has enough rough edges to make it increasingly irritating. Maybe I'll like today's version more than what I started with yesterday. I usually want to revise just about all of my postings once they're out.

I was able to go to both pranayama and Mysore class yesterday, so I got to work a bit worn out but in good spirits. When I read over my post from the other day about how long we go between breaths in pranayama class, it sounded a little far fetched. I presumed I was over estimating the time. To check it out, yesterday I checked the clock as we started the initial ujjayi portion and then again when we finished it. It took 15 minutes. They took a total of 15 breaths in that time. The alternate nostril breathing portion also took 15 minutes. I didn't count the breaths but I think it's 20 breaths. So, it was about 35 breaths in 30 minutes, or roughly what you would normally do in three to four minutes. Notice I said "they" took 35 breaths. Yesterday was not my best exhale retention day. I'll just say I took more breaths than they did. Quantitation is for the anal retentives.

Mysore practice immediately follows pranayama class. I'm still not sure if I'm at my best in that sequence. It seems to take me at least half of the standing sequence to start feeling my normal self. Maybe it's the stiffness from sitting in lotus for 45 minutes. Or maybe something about the breathing is making it feel different. I was at a workshop with Tim once. We did morning pranayama (a pranayama-lite version) session each day before practice. One time, to see how it changed things, we did the pranayama after practice. My recollection is that when we did the pranayama second, I felt better at doing the pranayama. When we did the breathing class first, I didn't think I did it as well but I seemed more focused in the asana practice. I got that sense yesterday too. I wasn't distracted by much, I was better tuned in to what I was doing than usual. My wife was set up across the room from me. When we practice together, I usually glance over her way from time to time to see how she's doing. When she asked me how she looked yesterday, I couldn't tell her much since I didn't really notice.

I did have my attention pulled astray a few times. There were a couple of times when people were doing some postures so out of sequence that they just made me look over and try to figure out what was going on. One guy was doing some assisted dips back from a standing position. This is normally done, at our studio, near the end of practice after backbending. He was doing it early in his second series. I never figured out for sure why he did it but I would imagine it was some kind of warm up for him before going into the ustrasana thru kapotasana sequence. At any rate, he just about cratered face first on the first drop back, where you go all the way to touching the head on the floor. He's a pretty big guy and I think he dipped a little faster than the assistant was expecting. Another person near me was doing kurmasana shortly after the standing poses. At first I thought they were just doing the second half of the first series before starting the second series. Not the case here. After a query from the teacher, the person returned to the early seated postures. Still can't figure that one out. I am often checking out the practice of JMS, an EZBoard and yoga studio compadre, for a couple of reasons. Most obvious is that he can do all the things that I can't, and makes it look so easy that it's impossible not to feel stupid in comparison. The other reason is that he has been making amazing progress in recovery from a knee injury. I saw him doing ardha baddha the other day. Last time I remember looking, he had no where near that range of motion. Patience and perseverance pay off. Very impressive.

My practice yesterday was notable for not feeling too tired. Through the first series anyway. As soon as I did pasasana, BAM!. I was breathing hard and sweating waterfalls. I did bind both sides, which I can't always do. Once I'm bound, which for me means a cupping of my fingers around each other, it feels like I could be put into hand to wrist. I don't maintain my balance very well when I'm trying to bind with out using a crutch to help support my heels. I still have to go to my toes to do this asana. Doing it without the block makes getting bound harder and the whole thing falls apart. It would be a kind of bass-ackward way of going into the posture, but after I have gotten fully bound, I feel stable enough that I get the sense that someone could pull away the foam block and I could get my heels down and keep them there. That's my illusion anyway, I've never tried it yet.

When I got to my last posture, kapotasana, I was surprised to see that I still had half an hour of practice time left. I decided to do a little more than the minimum there since I have a ways to go yet in that pose. I did an initial kapotasana right after laghuvajrasana. Then I did some research poses to stretch the shoulders and hip flexors. Then I did a couple more kapotasanas. By the last one, my elbows were only an inch or two off of the floor and I was able to grasp the knuckles of my big toes on my own. That doesn't sound like much but both are things that I usually have to be put into. I was starting to make those involuntary gasping and grunting noises though. I was getting pretty tired. Funny how that excuse always seem to be there when it comes time for backbending.

It was a good day, ashtanga-wise. It'll have to suffice for a while. Looking at my schedule, my practice opportunities will be negligible this coming week.

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