Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I looked at my "hit count" for this page earlier today. I was getting nearly twice as many hits as usual. They were coming from a pretty wide array of sites as well. I figured out why when I tried to open the EZBoard site for my daily reading. That site has been down all day because they are making a server switch. I guess since the EZBoarders have lost their usual source for daily ashtanga blather, this site has been serving as a fill in. Unfortunately, I haven't put anything up lately, so they've been doubly SOL. Since there's no telling when EZBoard will come back up, I should make some contribution here. It kind of bugs me when I want to read something and there's nothing to read, so I should do unto others.

I've only been able to practice two times since my last entry. On Saturday, I went to the improv class and today I went to mysore practice. The improv class was manna from heaven. I couldn't have asked for a class better designed to meet my current needs. I've been trying to develop some capability at doing Viparita Chakrasana, the "tic-tacs" from handstand into backbend and back to handstand that people sometimes do in the backbending sequence before doing the closing postures. As I moaned about in several previous entries, it's a very dynamic sequence that is difficult to think about what's going on while you're trying to do it. With most of the rest of the poses we do in the first and second series, things are static enough that you can mentally look at what you're doing and figure out things. You can make all kinds of adjustments back and forth to see what works and what doesn't. That isn't very feasible in V.C. though. At least not for me, not yet. Too much is going on too quickly, and it's all pretty edgy stuff when you haven't done it much. The teacher of Saturday's class asked what people wanted to work on. When nobody offered anything more creative than, "you know, the usual stuff" she told us she would come up with the theme. And, fortunately for me, it was a very organized step-wise build up to Viparita Dandasana, a pose that has actions similar to what I have been trying to learn how to do in Viparita Chakrasana. We did some of the usual standing sequence poses that she warms up with. For core and balance work, she had us do several variations of Ardha Chandrasana. Then we went right to groin stretches--a series of lunges, splits, etc to open the front of the groins. Then we moved to shoulder work, eventually progressing to Pincha Mayurasana variations. From there, we moved into a progression of back bending poses. At the time, it looked like we were doing an extensive build up to Kapotasana but the ultimate pose turned out to be Viparita Dandasana. We did a lot of variations of it, initially with the feet on the wall, then several with partner support in lowering to the mat without the wall, then some on our own without the wall or a partner. I got a great stretch of my back and shoulders. I also got a much better sense of the weight shifts that I need to be working towards. In the past, when I was in an unsupported Viparita Dandasana, I would usually make an attempt at coming back up to headstand. It would typically amount to little more than a futile hop of my feet upward. They would never get much more than a couple of feet off of the ground. I have never come close to taking the weight back into my back and shoulders. One of the things I learned in Saturday's practice is that I will never get up that way because all my weight has been behind me. I'll never get up until I can get my weight pushed forward past the midline where my head and hands are in contact with the floor. I did some pushes in that direction but I don't yet have the chest or shoulder opening necessary to get far enough forward with my weight. But, I do have a better idea of what I should be doing. The same will apply to Viparita Chakrasana, both in dropping over and in coming back up. I've got to focus on finding and eventually moving around that balance point. After doing all that back and shoulder work, the backbends we did at the end of that class were the easiest ones I have ever done, and we did them in the fashion that usually kills me, where you only come down far enough to touch your head down momentarily between each rep. That was a very reinforcing thing to have happen. Do the prep and the range of motion will improve. The postures will come.

After that great preparation class, I did nothing for the next four days. I never said I was smart. It could have been worse. The week originally was set up such that I wouldn't get to a class until next Saturday. Yesterday afternoon I checked my clinic schedule for this morning. A couple of the early morning appointment slots hadn't been booked yet, so I converted them and made arrangements to go to mysore class this morning. I had originally planned to go to Pranayama class too. After pranayama, in mysore class I was going to do my full sequence of first series and second series poses as assigned so far. I was feeling pretty stiff this morning though. I decided to use the pranayama class time to get in some hamstring and back stretches. As I stretched out, I decided to go with just the second series poses in mysore class. I planned on using the extra time to do all the prep poses I could remember, including the same Viparita Dandasana sequence that we had done on Saturday, to see if it would give me a better Kapotasana and Viparita Chakrasana. I was pleased with how they went. The improvement would have only been discernible to me, the poses would have looked no better to an onlooker, but it was a clear improvement nonetheless. In Kapotasana I felt a deeper back arch as I went back over. I was able to get my hands further along my feet than I usually do when I'm going on my own. When the teacher adjusted me a little further, I didn't feel the usual build up of tension in my shoulders. I don't know how Tim perceived my attempts at Viparita Chakrasana. To me they didn't feel as out of control as they were the last time he helped me try it. He still ended up doing most of the work but I sensed that I was understanding which direction things should be moving, even when I wasn't able to get them there. The rest of the practice today was middle of the road-ish. I was stiffer than I would have liked but not excessively so. The work before class helped. I got assisted into Dwi Pada Sirsasana. Once in the pose, I really felt like I had a good chance at balancing today. I was trying to push back against my legs with my shoulders and arms. I was right on the balance point and began to drift back a bit. I was thinking the guy who adjusted me was still there behind me and that I would be able to rebound off of him back up into the right spot. He had moved away though. I ended up rolling backward all the way down to the ground and out of the pose. Ignoble.

That's about all I can come up with today. I guess I could have chopped it up into a few more paragraphs to make for easier reading. Nah. No other classes for me until Sunday morning. Next week looks grim too.

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