Friday, July 04, 2003

I didn't get as tired in class today. This despite another marginal night of sleep. My wife had a bunch of coffee yesterday and had done a lot of back bending postures in an evening class, so she couldn't sleep. As is her wont, she felt the need to make sure I was aware of this. While my energy was pretty good for most of the practice, spending the night trying to defend my share of the sheets and my position in the bed instead of sleeping may explain why I was such a space cadet in class today. I guess I must have been daydreaming or something, but in my second Surya Namaskara B, I got lost. I had to pause and figure out what my next move was after I did the utkatasana. I should be able to do that in my sleep. I probably could actually, it's just when I'm awake that I have problems. Later, after I got ready to do the second side of Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, I got this feeling that I had done the first side with the wrong leg. I eventually had to ask Tim's assistant to make sure I had done it correctly. He probably wondered what planet I had been visiting. It's not easy trying to explain such events to people who are under the age of 45. Rest assured though, everybody gets their day.

Overall, I was happy with my practice today. I spent a little more time in each pose than I did yesterday. That left me with less time to do research poses for some of the second series poses. When I'm working on Kapotasana preparation, I usually do shoulder work: lying down prone with my hands and forearms against the wall in Pincha Mayurasana position, Viparita Dandasana variations against the wall then again out away from the wall. I should do a bunch of groin stretches too, but by the time I get to that part of the practice, I'm usually pretty whipped, so I tend to wimp out and skip the groin research poses. I am still making that incremental progress in Kapotasana. Today I was able to get my hands to the knuckles of my big toes on my own and my elbows are gradually getting closer to the floor.

I got a mild chastisement from Tim today for doing some extra 'research' poses. In Mysore classes lately, I've been doing some extra hip opening stuff. My legs have a natural predisposition to external rotation. That helps in some postures. I was able to do Baddha Konasana reasonably competently pretty early on. I was also able to get Janu C fairly quickly. The pose that I do after Janu C is an extension of that hip and knee action. In Viranchyasana B you start out in a Janu C position. Then you roll the heel forward, so that you end up sitting on the heel with the toes facing to the rear. It looks painful but, thanks to the range of motion that I naturally have in my hips, it wasn't much harder to do than Janu C. After Baddha Konasana, I sneak in a couple more extras. Once I was able to roll over my foot without a problem, I then had to find out if I could do Mula Bandhasana. This one starts out like Baddha Konasana, but you then plant the toes and roll the feet up so that the heels are up and the toes point straight down. Then you roll forward, like in Viranchyasana, so that both feet are pointing behind you. This is a pretty intense one. I've been too cautious to do much more than get my feet to vertical or sometimes a little past vertical. The last one I do is where I pull my feet to my chest, like occurs in Kandasana, but I only do one foot at a time. When I did the Mula Bandhasana one today, Tim strolled over and said, "Ah, 4th series doing?" I came out of it and gave him an embarrassed grin. I don't have a good reason for trying to do things like Mula Bandhasana or Kandasana. I guess I just want to see if I can. Bad ashtangi. Plus, it never hurts to be ready. You never know when somebody's gonna give you fifth series.

Today was crowded enough that we had to use three rows of mats, one down the middle of the room. I don't like it as much when we set up like that. It interferes with my attempts to get better at jumping through in my vinyasa. When somebody is right in front of me doing a forward bend, if I try a straight leg jumpthru, I'll probably smash right into them. So I end up just doing this hop to a seated move that I used to do. If I was a more motivated yogi, I would try to do the floaty jumpthru with crossed legs. Some people do this one instead of the straight leg version. They float their crossed legs through, hover, then settle down into a seated position. It takes a lot of bandhas, something I definitely need to build. Maybe next time.

Pranayama seemed easier today. The lengths of the breaths were closer to what we were doing when the teacher trainees were here. I made it as far as halfway through the alternate nostril breathing before I started to get that sense of "I NEED an extra breath. Or two." When I was on call the other day, I read some of Iyengar's book, "Light on Pranayama". He emphasized that you should practice to the extent that you can maintain a degree of steadiness and calm. When you lose those, you lose the benefit of doing the pranayama. I decided to accept that and stop trying to force myself to go as far as I can even if I'm dying to breathe. Today felt pretty good. Mr. Iyengar is my friend.

Later this week, we're going to New York state for a family get together. My wife has managed to set up a practice each morning with some ashtangis there. I'm hoping I can get myself to do pranayama each day too. I've got to get the alternate nostril breathing sequence down better though. I don't have the exact transition points down just yet. Given that I can still get lost just doing Sun Salutations or the standing poses, the odds are pretty good I'm gonna mess up the breathing sequences. Gotta try anyway.

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