I should have posted more this week. I had lots of practices to generate blog fodder. I had thought I was going to be able to practice last Friday night but had forgotten I was actually on call that night. I went to LA the next day to watch my son at a soccer tournament. On the way back home later that day, I stopped off at one of the LA area McYoga yoga studios for an evening class. I didn't get another chance until Tuesday evening's led first series class. It's been gravy since then though. Mysore two days in a row, Thursday and Friday, when my teacher was actually in town! I usually manage to time it such that my Mysore days are when he's on a trip of some kind. Today I went to the Improv class and tomorrow I get the led second series class. Just rewards. It's been fairly sparse for me since we got back from our Shasta trip in August.
Today's class was a classic one for me. First, about half way thru the class, I glanced down and noticed that my tank top looked a little weird. The logo on the front seemed too dim. Then I realized I had the shirt on inside out. Tres dufus, even for me. I wonder how many people saw me and thought, "Jesus, who's the spaz who can't even put his shirt on right? Isn't he married? His wife lets him out of the house looking like that?" Later, we were working on some shoulder and back bending research poses. We were doing a series of Viparita Dandasana variations against the wall. The pose they were starting with begins in headstand, facing away from the wall. You drop you legs back over to the wall and then settle your feet down the wall to about three to four feet high from the floor. You push into the wall and lift your head and arch your back and look back towards your hands with your head. I was one of three people whose mats were in the middle of the room. The class was fairly crowded and there really wasn't much open space against the wall. I decided to go ahead and do the research poses in the middle without using the wall. I was originally going to just drop all the way over into Viparita Dandasana and do that while they did the supported version against the wall. I got my legs about half way over and realized that if I held them out there in what felt like the same position as the folks using the wall, I would get a really good back bend. The teacher came over though and put my feet against her, acting as my wall support. I thought I'd try to move my feet down from her stomach to closer to her hip area to increase the bend. She moved them right back up where they had been. When I came down, I was trying to figure out why she made me go back up. I figured maybe I moved my feet too close to her groin or something. I asked where my feet had been. She pointed to her upper chest. When I had moved my feet lower to what felt like her lower abdomen, I must have been putting my feet down onto the area of her breasts. I guess I should have known her abs weren't that soft. Oh man. That was about as embarrassed as I've been as an adult. I apologized but she shrugged it off. I was going to apologize to her again after class but she had to leave early to catch a plane. She left while we were in Savasana so I missed her. Hopefully, when they get back her boyfriend won't come looking for me to beat me about the head and shoulders with his surfboard for my transgression.
My request for Improv today was to work on Karandavasana. I was given another pose earlier in the week in one of the Mysore classes, so I'm one step closer to that crux pose of the series. I want to get as many chances to work on it as I can, so that when I do get it I won't be totally incompetent. We did a nice series of prep poses before actually doing the pose today. I was able to get up into Pincha Mayurasana without too much flip flopping around. I was able to get my legs crossed into Lotus okay as well. I can't get them in any where near as deeply as I can when I'm sitting and using my hands, but I was happy to just get into that phase of the pose. I often can't. As is usually the case, once I got in position to lower, it all went south quickly, literally. I can't yet figure out how to get my hips to flex so that I can lower my folded legs down near my chest while maintaining the body in a relatively upright position. I usually either overdo my attempt at counterbalancing by pushing my butt out behind me and end up falling over backwards or I will inadvertently let my butt drop down as I try to flex at the hip. Once the butt starts going down, it becomes an irresistible force. It just keeps going faster and faster. Eventually it becomes a matter of what's going to smack down first, my knees or my butt, neither of which feels that great. One of my friends at the studio came over to my mat and showed me some bandha things to work on. Instead of balancing the knees on the back of the arms in Bakasana and Eka Pada Bakasana, he recommended that I try putting my knees on the outside of my upper arms. To keep them in place there, I would have to go into max contract. After he showed me how to do it, I gave it a try. I couldn't even get close to doing it. I had told him that I didn't have any bandhas at all. He didn't believe me until he saw me try that. Something good to work on though.
I've noticed over a period of time something that strikes me as odd. When I set up my mat before class, the spaces around me are among the last to fill up. In the Tuesday evening class, I had gaps on each side of me for quite a while until the guy who helped me today came in and set up near me. I mentioned my theory to him. He laughed like I was imagining things. He said my hair was maybe a little scary looking. Today, I was the first person to set up a mat. I was on one side of the room, right in the middle. The next six people to come in all set up on the opposite side of the room from me. I asked my wife, she said I don't smell bad. She wouldn't lie, I don't think. I'm gonna get a complex or something. I can't figure it out. I'm an undesirable.
As mentioned above, I got to go to Mysore class twice this week. I was post-call on Thursday but I had a pretty good practice that day. I did the second series poses with research. I didn't think I needed to go the "all of first and all of my allotted second poses" route, since I had done pretty much only first series classes for the preceding three weeks. After doing all of my backbending research, and its a ton, maybe a bit over the top, Tim helped me again in trying Kapotasana. He got me close to the edge of my heels again, but not as close as the last time. If there's one pose in the second series that I have lost ground with lately, it would be Supta Vajrasana. At one point, I could be assisted into keeping both feet bound for at least the first drop back. I would typically lose my grip on one of my feet at that point but I had at least gotten to that point. Lately, I haven't even tried to go back with my feet bound. I usually use a towel or just grab the hands of the person helping me. I've had a sore spot where one of the lower leg muscles, maybe the anterior tibialis, inserts on the lateral side below the left knee. I can do stuff, but there's a tight sensation that has kept me cautious. I think I tweaked the muscle when trying to lift up/vinyasa back from Bharadvajasana.
Anyway, back to class. I didn't get into Dwi Pada Sirsasana again but Tim put me into it after I slipped off on my second or third try. I held the balance, though my posture was pretty poor, I was bowed forward a lot more than I should be. I guess maybe he wanted to know that I could hold the balance more than once because after I did Yoga Nidrasana, he gave me the Tittibhasana sequence. I can do these. I can't do them well but I can do them. Except, when I had my moment to show what I could do, I couldn't do it. I guess maybe I was a little surprised to get the poses. I had started to move towards doing backbends when, from behind me, he called the pose. I nodded and jumped around my hands and pressed up into the A position. When I let my feet down, I guess I was letting my mind wander because something about how I did things, either where my feet were or how I wrapped my hands, I don't know what the problem was, but I wasn't able to bind in Tittibhasana B. Arrggh!!! I've been able to bind in this almost every time for months now. I get the chance to show that I have some ability in a pose and am not at square one and I barney it. After having to have Tim do the bind for me, I then almost forgot to do Titti C. I was thinking ahead to D, which is a little demanding. I had released my bind and started to move my feet into the 'Charlie Chaplin' position for D when I realized that I hadn't walked the walk yet. So I had to do C with my hands behind my back but unbound, all with Tim standing right there mentally registering my incompetence. AAARRRGGGGHHH!!! Not that I'm attached to progressing or anything. I'm usually not that bad about posture seeking actually. I had been thinking, however, that when I did finally get Tittibhasana, if I could show him some reasonable competence, I might get to Karandavasana a little sooner. I want to work on the stuff I can't do well at all. I guess I proved that I need to work on this more than I thought I needed to. It's okay, I can do humble too. I get a lot of practice at that one.
My Viparita Chakrasanas went pretty well, for me. Tim helped me do them. When we did the last part of the sequence, Vrschikasana, he told me my feet were only two inches from my head. That didn't register with me at first, since my feet have typically been more like a foot or two away. I did a double take and said, "Really, Two inches?" He nodded. I still didn't believe him. That made my day though. I'll never have a "good" back but Vrschikasana is a pose that I could always state with certainty that, "I'll never be able to do that." So, to learn that I had actually started to bend in there quickened my spirit a bit. A lot actually. I still haven't done it but even the notion of progression in that kind of stuff is a big deal for me.
Yesterday, in Friday's Mysore class, I did everything that I had done the day before. I had no problem at all doing Tittibhasana B. I looked up to see if it was noticed but Tim was working with someone else. Oh well. I felt pretty good about my Viparita Chakrasana that day too. I can't get back up and over on my own. After I drop over, I have to lower down from backbend and then roll over, get up to my feet and do it over again. The teachers were both busy at that point, so I did some more dropovers towards the wall. Once I landed, I would use the wall to push off of to get my feet back up and over. After three of those, I turned back towards the middle and did a couple of dropovers followed by stand ups from the backbend position. I then tried to do Vrschikasana on my own. I was a bit on the worn out side by that time though. Tim was on the mat next to me so he came over to help. I told him what I was trying to do. "Vrschikasana? You did Viparita Chakrasana?" "Well, I did, but I used the wall," I responded. "Ah, doing research. Okay. Viparita Chakrasana." So, we did the whole sequence again. I didn't get as close in Vrschikasana this time. I could tell he was trying to get me close since I had told him I didn't believe him the day before when he told me my feet nearly touched. I didn't have it that day though so he backed off and let me down.
Tomorrow is led second series. I'm not sure who is going to be teaching it. Both Tim and the person who usually leads the class when he is gone are out of town. We'll see how things hold up for me. I'll have no excuses because this has been one of my better weeks. Today I even felt like I was getting Parighasana pretty well and I suck at that one.