No yoga today, work came first. After a relaxing vacation like I had last week, work is so much more enjoyable. It's like a valve has opened and released a build up of pressure. Now, the question is how long will it take before the pressure builds up again? We plan on going to class with Pattabhi Jois when he comes to our area in November. I don't know that I can take two full weeks of vacation then though. I may just try and manipulate my schedule to start later rather than actually taking full or half days off.
Yesterday, I went to the led second series class. Tim, our teacher, had made the 12 hour drive back from Shasta the day before, pulling in at around 11:00 PM. His trip was further enhanced by the presence of his two year old daughter (anybody who has made a long road trip with a toddler will know what I mean). After two weeks of next to no personal practice while teaching us, daily hikes at altitude and then a long drive like that, I was amazed that he even showed up to lead the class. I would have taken the day to settle in and recover a bit. This class is a little different than the typical led class in that he does all the postures with us. I ended up practicing right next to him. While he did everything, some of the counts were shorter than they might usually be, especially in the closing sequence. Since I'm usually cagging many postures before that, no complaints from me. After we finished, he then taught the first series class. This is usually a pretty large class and he will typically have one or two people helping him do adjustments. As I was leaving yesterday, that class was just getting started and he had no help at all. Oooof, just what you need after a long trip and a tiring practice in a hot room: 35 - 40 students and no help. Ahh, the glamorous life of a yoga teacher.
I wish I could say that I improved a lot in the Second series from our week in Shasta, but I'd have a hard time proving it. I did marginally better in the Tittibhasanas yesterday, I touched my finger tips in B but couldn't bind. If I could have bound, even if it were just barely, I would have felt totally victorious and would have likely had a power surge that would have kept me pushing the edge for a while longer. Instead, I eased off as I usually do after those tiring postures and just sort of made it through the rest of the class. I've gotten a little better at Eka Pada Sirsasana, I can usually fold forward without my leg sliding off of my head, but not always. I can't do Dwi Pada on my own but I can be put there. Yesterday, Tim did put me there. He sometimes won't adjust me in that pose. I guess he sees something that tells him that I'm not ready yet. He crossed my legs but didn't push the shoulders through too much. I was kind of bowed over and couldn't hold the balance. I had it for a second but couldn't keep stable with the leg/neck pressure interaction. It felt like if I could get my shoulders through better, I would be more steady and might be able to hold the balance point. Could just be wishful thinking, we'll have to see. I had been thinking I was doing okay with Yogi Nidrasana because I could cross my feet on my own and could also bind my hands. My wife pointed out that to do it correctly the feet are supposed to be on the floor, or very close to it. Mine aren't even close. Same problem: until I can get my shoulders through better, I won't be able to extend my back to apply pressure on the ankles.
Even though I can't do the series without getting so tired that the last few postures are little more than going through the motions, it feels like I will be able to make better progress in that series than I have so far in the three years I have been trying to learn the first series. Talk is cheap of course.
Last week, one of the practices was an improv type class. He covered a lot of areas but one of the focuses of the class was bandha development. That translated into lots of arm balances of one type or another. I have only done most of those postures a couple of times. And saying that I have "done" them is misleading. More accurately, I have tried to do them. I did okay this time. I almost made it into Urdhva Kukkutasana B. In this pose you start out in Padmasana. Then you lift up onto your hands like you were doing Uth Pluttihi. In one 'smooth' motion, you then swing your legs back though your arms and, with your bandhas, lift your butt up and place your knees in the armpits and balance there for 5 breaths. I could get my knees through on a couple of tries. I could get a whisper of a lift going but never enough to actually get the knees anywhere near a position of support on the arms. I was able to do Urdhva Kukkutasana C though. It's an easier version in which you start in Padmasana. In Padmasana, you roll up onto your hands and knees. Then with a full exhale, you bandha up and slide the knees up the arms and position them in the armpits for a five breath hold. It took me a couple of tries but I got it eventually and was able to hold it too. I never got Bakasana B the entire week. I had previously landed it a couple of times in practice back at home and was hoping to be able to keep it going but I've lost the feel for what it takes to float in. The poses we tried in the bandha class did clearly demonstrate the importance of the bandhas. But, not being able to do most of them yet just more clearly showed me that I don't have much in the way of bandhas. Thanks for the reminder.
I don't have to start my OR tomorrow until mid morning so I'm going to go to the led first series class with Tim. I haven't gone to that class in over two years. Tuesdays are my normal operating day so I almost never get to class on those days. The one time I can remember going to that particular class, I think Tim threw in a few extras, like counting the reps of Urdhva Dhanurasana alphabetically up to 12. Fun stuff like that. Can't wait.