Monday, September 01, 2003

I'm working today, Labor Day. Somewhat apropos for an obstetrician to work on Labor Day. I finagled a favor or two and got the morning covered so that I could go to mysore class this morning. Now I'm finishing off what is left of the shift. Splitting a shift is not the way we usually cover calls but it's working out well for me, so I may see if I can set up something similar the next time I have to work on a Sunday or a holiday.

Yesterday I went to the led Second series class with my wife. My two youngest kids were at sleep-overs. We faced a little dilemma about what to do with the remaining child, my ten year old. If we make her go to a class, she'll usually grudgingly do the postures. If we give her the option, however, she never wants to go. Since we weren't able to arrange anything for somebody to watch her for us, we needed to figure out what to do. I figured by age ten, she ought to be able to stay home on her own for a couple of hours but the notion is a new one and we still don't really feel all that comfortable with it yet. In the end, she tagged along with us. She started out not doing any poses but when it got to the stuff she likes, the backbending, she jumped in. After that section of the series, the challenges of the postures go up and they're not quite as much fun for her to try, so she watched the rest of the way. She loves watching the class do Tittibhasana C and Nakrasana though. She thinks we look hilarious. We probably do. If you ever want to understand the concept of the ravages of time, watch a ten year old do the second series. With no attempts at doing any stretching for something like a year, she is grabbing her heels in Kapotasana and is bored doing it. For me, after doing yoga as faithfully as possible for three plus years, it takes a crew of powerfully built teachers just to crank me into a spot where I can grab so much as my toenail. We won't even bother discussing the ease with which my kids can do drop backs and standups. Quite humbling.

My second series wasn't as good as my previous experiences have been. I don't know why but I was fairly tired, as early as the standing sequence. In looking for an excuse, I have decided to again blame diet. Maybe I was just calorie deficient. I didn't eat any dinner the night before. I just had a bunch of cashews (yes, of course they were salted). For the fruits/vegetable portion of my meal, I had a couple of popsicles. I don't think I can justify that excuse under closer examination however. My wife has been juice fasting for four days now and she isn't having any energy problems. She's binding like a maniac now though.

I did okay in the single leg behind the head postures. When we do this portion of the second series in this class, we usually do some research poses first. The sequence of research poses that are done will vary from class to class, sometimes we don't do any. Usually, we will do a downward facing version of Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana. Then we'll often do a pose Tim calls Virabhadrasana C. In this pose, you go into a deep lunge. Then you grab the ankle of the forward foot with the opposite hand. You then sink into the lunge further, twist toward the forward leg a bit and try to get your head as far under the forward leg as you can. If you can do it, it ends up looking like a standing version of kasyapasana in which you have both feet on the ground. From that, we lift the front foot and transition to Visvamitrasana then back to Chaturanga Dandasana. Then, yes there's still more, we'll jump through, lay back and bring our lower leg up and lay it across our chest with the heel in one armpit and the knee in the other. It's kind of the supine version of the Adho Muhka Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana we had done earlier. Then, we'll go into Kasyapasana. Then we rock up and do the normal sequence for that side for Eka Pada Sirsasana. Then we do it all over again for the other side. I was able to do Kasyapasana without having to keep one hand on the foot behind the head. I still can't get the straight leg down to where it's touching the ground but I'm not that drastically flexed at the waist. I could grasp the foot of the straight leg with both hands during the forward bending portion of Eka Pada Sirsasana, again not needing to hold on to the other foot for dear life. I still can't figure out what it is I'm doing on the lift up to the vinyasa that causes me to lose the foot though. I must be dipping my head and/or rolling that shoulder down and in. The obligatory breakthrough for this class was my being able to bind for the first time ever in Tittibhasana B. I wasn't able to completely straighten my legs but, by the time I got around to that, the five count had already been called so I didn't have enough time to explore the feel of it to see what I needed to do. After that sequence and the next two postures, I was pretty spent, so I didn't have the best of form the rest of the way through the class. I only fell down in one of the head stands though, so that's an improvement. I was tired enough that I had no intention of trying a drop back. I did stand up on the last back bend but that was gesture enough for that day.

Today's class was a mysore class. I wasn't able to get the morning freed up for practice until yesterday evening. Since I ended up calling my mom so late to see if she could come over early to watch the kids, I didn't want to make her come over at 5:30AM, so I told her to just come around 6:30 and I blew off the 6:00 pranayama class. I got to the practice room while they were still doing the pranayama, so I just stretched for a while. My wife usually hustles through the standing poses and the first series fairly quickly. She usually has passed me by before I get to Utthita Parsvakonasana . Today, I stayed with her until somewhere around Navasana, then she dusted me. I got a deeper than average adjustment in Supta Kurmasana. Rather than just crossing my ankles, Tim made sure my shoulders were under my legs and he spread the feet apart a bit to help the hip stretch. I had seen a video of Tim and Ana Forrest a while back that showed both of them pressing up to a handstand from Tittibhasana. When I have felt strong, which hasn't been very often, I would try to see how far up I could get my hips when I was jumping back to Chaturanga after pressing up to Tittibhasana from Supta Kurmasana. The notion being that some time in the future I would hit that magic bandha moment and actually be able to spread the legs up to a handstand too. JMS recently posted a link to a similar video sequence over on the EZBoard site. I have a ways to go. Given the relative frequency of my practice this week, I was reasonably flexible today. I was still disappointingly fatigued but I bent in both directions and twisted fairly well. I've abandoned my foam block for a heel lift in Pasasana. I've been able to bind okay doing this. The heels are still an inch or so away from the floor but it's coming. I got a double dose of Kapotasana today. I did my usual research sequence then did the pose. Tim's assistant came over to help me get deeper. The woman next to me got up to help as well. They got me to a slightly asymmetrical placement. My right hand was at the base of my toe but my other hand only made it to the side of the big toe, I couldn't even grab it. The straight arm portion of the pose kind of sucked too. I came up and went through my vinyasa for the next pose. At which point Tim came over and announced, "I think we need to give this a second try." So I went back down again. This time, they got me to my deepest one ever. Both hands were at what felt like the middle of the soles of my feet. Maybe they were a little shy of that, but they were in that area. Tim is the best adjuster I've ever had. Among other things, I need to do more groin work to keep progressing in this pose. I've been being lazy on that area. Back bending today went okay. Not too tired. My stand up was middle of the road marginal. I screwed up my drop back. I was so scared I would land on my head again that I kept my arms completely locked. When I landed, the momentum caused me to bounce up and forward. Because my knees ended up being fairly bent at that point, I ended up bouncing right up into a kneeling position. After realizing what happened, I stood up and tried it again. This time I got down in a messy but reasonable fashion. No extraneous limbs or body parts impacting in unintended ways. I lived once again. I couldn't get up after the drop back though. My arch felt bad and I thought I was going to tweak something. I laid down, re-set up in a back bend and came up one last time. Tim seemed to think that it was pretty weak to bail out on the stand up after a drop back. I guess once I have a better handle on making the landing, I can learn to use the momentum to rebound back up more easily.

I've got to go to the ER to see a patient so I'm going to post this and proof it later.

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